The Swiss-mediated meeting of September 26 between the Georgian and Russian Foreign Ministers, Davit Zalkaliani and Sergey Lavrov, respectively, the first one since the 2008 August war, triggered mixed reactions in Georgia from the ruling party and opposition politicians.
Below is a compilation of these assessments.
Ruling party assessments
Giorgi Gakharia, Georgian Prime Minister: “I hope that this meeting, which was held at the headquarters of the UN General Assembly, will promote the solution of the most difficult problems between Georgia and Russia. Obviously, international rules, international laws and close cooperation with our partners are the only way towards problem solution. It was the spirit of this meeting, in full consent with our partners. Therefore, exactly on September 27 [The day Sokhumi fell in 1993, that for Georgians symbolizes the loss of control over Abkhazia region – Civil.ge’s note], we should understand that cold, pragmatic policy and the only condition that war is no solution, is the platform from where we should talk to everyone in order to lay the foundation for the unity and democratic development of our country.”
Ketevan Tsikhelashvili, State Minister for Reconciliation and Civic Equality: “We should take and will take all necessary steps that will serve Georgia’s supreme state interests to ensure that the conflict is settled peacefully, without war. Of course, all steps are acceptable. In this case, two things have been outlined – first, talks in any formats are an absolutely acceptable practice and we do not avoid them. On the contrary, we stand ready for any dialogue and discussions and we are doing it in Geneva to solve the problems, and second, we know, when we are talking, what we are talking about and why we are talking. Just these issues were discussed at the meeting between the Georgian and Russian Foreign Ministers.”
MP Gia Volski, leader of the parliamentary majority: “The tense situation created near the occupation line served as the precondition for this meeting. I have said previously that there are two ways – the first is armed confrontation, defensive offence and the second way is negotiations, which is supported by our partner countries, the United States, the EU member states, and not only because they consider the decision correct for Georgia, they are interested in preventing yet another hot spot in South Caucasus and avoiding problems in respect of the country, which represents their stronghold in this region.”
Nika Melia, United National Movement: “As soon as Mr. Zalkaliani arrives, we will summon him to the Parliament. We learned that a meeting was held between Lavrov and Zalkaliani beyond the Geneva International Discussions format. The Russian Federation has been long trying to destruct this format, because they do not need it. I do not think that the Zalkaliani-Lavrov meeting will end with our diplomatic success.”
Giga Bokeria, European Georgia: “Ivanishvili’s team is not ready to have any vision about this problem, about the main problem – Russian aggression, about how it can cope with it; actually, with its policy, it strengthens Putin’s positions in respect of Georgia both inside and outside the country. Moreover, the Foreign Minister is an unserious figure, because its political weight is equal to zero; naturally, I am skeptical [towards the meeting].”
Shalva Natelashvili, Labor Party: “Kremlin’s satellite, newly appointed [PM Giorgi] Gakharia was directly instructed from Moscow to organize the meeting and its agenda was developed according to Moscow’s conditions. First – signing non-use of force agreement with Abkhazia and so-called South Ossetia; second – opening railway communication via Abkhazia, as well as land communication via Tskhinvali towards Armenia and Iran that is a strategic interest of Russia, as well as its newly acquired strategic allies, Iran and Turkey.”
Russia-friendly politicians also seized the opportunity to comment on the meeting.
Nino Burjanadze, United Georgia – Democratic Movement: “It is good that the meeting was held. I do not know, maybe, the election year has largely contributed to it… Until foreigners did not tell the government of independent Georgia that negotiations were necessary, should not the government of independent Georgia have guessed about it before? I have got enough experience and contacts and I know for sure that we were told at each meeting for years that negotiations should have been held.”
Ada Marshania, MP, Alliance of Patriots: “We have been talking about it for many years, offering the government to take the issue seriously; we are stating that direct dialogue with Moscow is necessary. We welcome the fact itself. Of course, we want to know what they talked about and I hope that during the committee meeting in the Parliament, we will learn about it.”
- 27/09/2019 – UN, OSCE, U.S. Welcome Georgian, Russian FMs’ Meeting
- 27/09/2019 – EU Statement on Georgian, Russian FMs’ Meeting
- 26/09/2019 – Georgian, Russian FMs Hold Swiss-Mediated Meeting on UNGA Sidelines