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Georgia wants better relations with Moscow

October 04, 2012, 12:59 UTC+3

A dramatic drop in the trade turnover with Russia has badly hit Georgia’s economy to give rise to popular discontent with the Saakashvili regime

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The votes cast in Georgia's parliamentary elections have been counted to demonstrate the victory of the Georgian Dream opposition coalition, which won about 55 percent of the vote. So far, it is not yet clear who is going to be the country's prime minister. The coalition leader, Bidzina Ivanishvili, has already hinted that it would be right of incumbent President Mikhail Saakashvili to step down. Among his priorities, Ivanishvili listed a soonest resumption of relations with Moscow.

The Moskovsky Komsomolets newspaper however notes that "it is too early to speak about the change of power in Georgia." Opposition coalition leader Bidzina Ivanishvili has already laid bare his plans as prime minister. He pledged that none of the incumbent ministers would be admitted in a new government. Moreover, he said he would not seek Saakashvili's advice about candidates for ministerial positions. Still more to it, he strongly recommended the president to waste no time and resign the soonest possible. Saakashvili, in turn, called to refrain from such revolutionary statements. The president said he was ready to nominate a candidate for premiership, who would be acceptable for the opposition.

According to the Rossiiskaya Gazeta daily, Ivanishvili touched upon the subject of relations between Georgia and Russia more than once even before the elections. He said he saw it as his immediate task "to resume trade and cultural ties" with Russia, although the issue of normalizing diplomatic relations seems to be unwelcome for Georgian politician. "It will be a very difficult process and the first steps, as far as I remember Bidzina Ivanishvili saying, will be of economic nature," said Ivanishvili's adviser, Zurab Karumidze. "First, it is necessary to stop the hawkish rhetoric in respect of Moscow." A dramatic drop in the trade turnover with Russia has badly hit Georgia's economy to give rise to popular discontent with the Saakashvili regime. Hence, the defeat of his party in the parliamentary elections looks quite logical.

According to political scientist Soso Tsiskarishvili, it is highly unlikely that the president will seek to dissolve the parliament. "The president should want to be sure to win the majority of the vote in the next elections. Now he cannot be certain of that," Tsiskarishvili told the Novye Izvestia newspaper. It looks like Ivanishvili wants external support ahead of future battles. Stating his intention to improve relations with Russia, he however gave to understand where he planned to go on his first international visit. His first destination will be the United States.

The Kommersant daily cites Alexander Rondeli, the director of the Institute of Strategic Research, as saying that the victory of the opposition coalition might play into the hands of Russia. "Russia needs access to Armenia. Russia would never give up its interests in Georgia. To control the Caucasus, it is necessary to control Georgia. It is impossible to do it from the outside: the global situation is now different. But it can well be done from the inside, not hurting one's image," Rondeli said. 





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