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Georgian Foreign Minister on priorities of new government’s foreign policy

November 14, 2012, 11:48 UTC+3

The Kommersant daily published an interview with Maia Panjikidze

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Despite the commitment of the new authorities of Georgia “to break with the past,” that was being built by the team of President Mikhail Saakashvili, the continuity of the course regarding the foreign policy has been declared — the country will continue the course towards joining NATO and the EU, the Kommersant daily writes. The newspaper published an interview with the country’s new Foreign Minister Maia Panjikidze.

She said, in particular, that in her view, Georgia’s pro-Western course has no alternative. “This is the choice of the Georgian people. And any government should follow the will of the people. And Georgia’s aspiration towards Europe arose not under the previous government, but has an age-long tradition.”

“Our efforts will be aimed primarily at strengthening democracy,” the foreign minister said. “NATO has admitted countries that not fully met the military standards — but they shared the common democratic values.”

Answering a question of whether it is possible to combine the aspiration to join NATO with the desire to improve relations with Russia, of which Prime Minister Ivanishvili spoke, she said: “There are many examples of the compatibility of NATO membership with good relations with Russia. Our task is to be another example of this.”

Despite the fact that diplomatic relations between Georgia and Russia are broken, the relations themselves exist, said Maia Panjikidze. “First, one of their manifestations is the Geneva format. However, within it we have not achieved significant results that allow us to hope for the settlement of the main problems, but it does exist and it must be preserved. Second, the known decisions have been made on Russia’s accession to the WTO. Third, Russian businesses have the possibility to work comfortably in Georgia. Fourth, Georgia has unilaterally abolished the visa regime with Russia. Fifth, the idea of the participation in the Sochi Olympics has been promulgated.”

The creation of new mechanisms of interaction - such as the introduction of the post of the prime minister’s special representative for relations with the Russian Federation should cause no surprise, the foreign minister believes. The relations can be built also through this channel. She did not rule out the “involvement of the international community for the intensification of the mechanism for interaction with Russia.” The role of mediator in generally very important when relations are strained.

Speaking about Russia’s desire to integrate the post-Soviet space, Panjikidze said, in particular: “The only associations that Georgia will join are NATO and the EU. The country does not have any other way, and no government will sheer off this course.”


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