Georgian-Russian relations depend on conflict settlement – speaker
MOSCOW. July 29 (Interfax) – Georgian parliament speaker Nino Burjanadze in a Friday interview with Interfax stated the attitude of her country to key problems in relations with Russia.
"The final improvement of Georgian-Russian relations depends on Russia's constructive role in settling the conflicts in Abkhazia and South Ossetia," Burjanadze said.
"We are ready for serious political compromise, but not damaging national interests, of course. We are ready to speak with Abkhazians and Ossetians to find a peaceful, fair settlement of the conflict. But as long as Tskhinvali and Sukhumi feel the support of certain Russian circles, it will be difficult to do that," she said.
She also said that the future of the bilateral framework treaty also depends on Russia's stance on Georgian territorial integrity.
"The Georgian parliament ratified the framework treaty with Russia back in 1995, but the State Duma refused to do the same because the treaty declares the territorial integrity of Georgia, and, in the opinion of the then Russian MPs, Abkhazia and South Ossetia should have determined their political status independently," Burjanadze said.
"If the State Duma insists on this approach today, the framework treaty has no future, of course," she said.
"We are ready not only to sign, but also to ratify the treaty on the condition that it will not be emasculated and will be filled with realistic formulas," she said.
Burjanadze rejected the possibility that the framework treaty should contain a provision that Georgia will not host foreign military bases on its territory. "Such an attitude is unfair because no country can tell another what bases it can host in its territory and what it cannot. Nevertheless, for the sake of improving relations with Russia we are ready to pass a corresponding law, even though there will be difficulty getting it through parliament," she said.
She was also surprised by the Russian reaction to Georgia's contacts with the West. "I cannot understand why Russia is irritated by Georgia's relations with NATO though Russia itself has perfect relations with it. I cannot understand why it is irritated by Georgia's relations with the United States and with European nations. It seems that Russia is allowed to do anything it pleases, and Georgia is not," she said.
In her opinion, not all Russian politicians are interested in improving bilateral relations.
"The Georgian leadership highly appreciates the decision on the withdrawal of military bases from Akhalkalaki and Batumi, which was quite difficult for Russia. We regard the step as a positive development in Georgian-Russian relations. However, one can hardly speak of any change at the parliamentary level. Moreover, after the base withdrawal agreement was signed members of the Russian State Duma again started speaking of unfriendly Georgia," she said.
"At the recent session of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly in Washington the Russian delegation unexpectedly aggravated the situation by bringing groundless charges against Georgia," Burjanadze said.
"Evidently there are people in the State Duma and certain Russian circles who don't want Georgian-Russian relations to normalize," she said.
Burjanadze again accused Russia of involvement in a terrorist act in the Georgian town of Gori and urged the Russian authorities to track and punish the organizers.
"I greatly hope that the terrorist act in Gori was not planned in the higher echelons of Russian power – naturally I am not speaking of the top echelons – but at a lower level and that the organizers will be punished," she said.
"If this doesn't happen, it will be very difficult to speak of deepening neighborly relations, in which Georgia is deeply interested," Burjanadze said.
The explosion of a Lada car in Gori, 80 kilometers outside of Tbilisi on February 1 killed three people and injured 26. The car, packed with explosives, was parked outside the regional police headquarters.
Earlier this week Georgian Interior Minister Vano Merabishvili said that Col. Anatoly Sysoyev of the Chief Intelligence Department of the Russian General Staff had organized the terrorist act. The Russian Interior and Defense Ministries have denied the claim.