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What a complete waste of time and money that was.
Pt. 7 (and final part)
ZM - I will tell you even more. Because they are so kind to us and can not change the strategic partnership and nothing can change this attitude. In addition, billions of dollars of capital are ready in the United States to come to Georgia, create jobs, generate income for people, and get out of this misery.
J1 - However, during the rule of this government, I think America also realizes that this will not happen.
ZM - That's exactly why I started. The picture that the West sees today when it draws a parallel. Opposition Navalny, which is hot news in Russia today. When the leader of the opposition in Georgia ...
J1 - It all happened at a very bad time. Such associations and parallels are thought to be unimaginable.
ZM - It happens on the day of the Defenders of the Fatherland, which is celebrated in Russia. All this is very badly associated with the reality that we would like Georgia to be in to get more wealth from a strategic relationship with the United States.
J1 - And finally I would like to ask you. Early elections was demand of the opposition and it seemed to be abstract, frankly I don’t quite understand how should 100-men parliament should work properly for 4 years if the opposition does not enter the parliament. I don’t know who this works. Will there be an early election? Today it seems that the opposition wants and demands it no more. I think more and more people in the West have seen that this is an inevitable reality and there can be no peace in this country if there are no early elections.
ZM - If we were a Western European country now, early elections would be held tomorrow. But because we are not a Western European country, and because such political developments have taken place, I do not think the country will miss the early elections, and Georgian Dream knows that. It will be the best way to lower the political temperature, to bring the capital in this ruined economy, to make money for the people, otherwise it will worthen the political situation in 1-2 months.
J1 - Early elections seem very real, by the way.
ZM - I too think we can avoid it and it will be good.
J1 - Thank you. Zaza Mamulaishvili, director of "Frontera Resources" was our guest.
J1 - By the way, I do not know how true this is, that before the election, the lobbyists funded by Ivanishvili worked hard to somehow sort out relations with the Trump administration, and as a result, America did not pay attention to the fate of an election. These can be myths. How do you explain that criticism from America has slowed down lately?
ZM - The pandemic coincided with all of this. Coincided with Trump's policies. There were also elections in the United States. And, of course, the active work of stakeholders in Washington. Therefore, the situation that some anticipated to happen, did not occur. But, the context has changed. In 1 week or about 10 days, the United States intends to give a formal response to Russia over a large-scale cyber-attack that has not been carried out by Russia since the end of the Cold War. In this context, it has become even more apparent that Russia is actively seeking to expel Western and, above all, American interests from the region, and is doing so very intensively.
J1 - And this story was stripped naked in Georgia as well. It is no coincidence that the statements of all our partners contain the emphasis that this government is leading Georgia towards Russia through this type of action. That is why it is still very important. Some in the opposition call it the liberation struggle, the new national movement. It may sound pathetic but it actually turns out that way because with these types of actions we can really turn to Russia.
ZM - Of course. Added to there is also another important moment. For the first time in history, perhaps this year or next, China will overtake the economically united United States. China will become the # 1 economy in the world.
J1 - Well, we know why this happened. Because the consequences of the pandemic were most easily tolerated by China than the rest of the world.
ZM - Yes, in addition, the growth is very intense. And, this is a very important tectonic change. The United States has not had such provocative conditions before. China is also intensively trying to gradually oust the US from areas that were traditionally American, say, areas of influence. So that this competition was greatly intensified and intensified. And, we are at the center of this competition. So that is not hard and difficult to imagine.
J1 - Therefore, or even despite this, the price of Georgia is very high today. Georgia is a valuable partner for the West. We all have the feeling that those who want to move to the West and those who want Georgia to be a partner of the West and not a servant of Russia, that the West will hold our hand and not let us go so easily. We sometimes do not have the strength to oppose something for a variety of reasons. The only thing which us the most is that we don’t want our government to put us in the place from which we can not easily get out.
J1 - They are very unanimous so far. Isn't that so?
TS - It looked like that until Gakharia left. I'm heartbroken because there are some normal people in the Dream. By the way, it was their merit that the Dream won the fight with opposition for Western public opinion, and now they can be said to have plunged into this avalanche, which erupts on the dream because of this 1 wrong, stupid step. Generally speaking, there are normal people on both sides and I wish these normal people came together and run the country, but unfortunately that does not work like that.
J1 - OK. Thank you Tornike for participating in the show. Tornike Sharashenidze was our guest. We are back at our studio with Zaza Mamulaishvili. Mr. Zaza, how do sanctions work? It was reported today that the sanctions directly against Ivanishvili are not being considered at this stage and are being considered, moreover, on his entourage, the officials who carried out this decision. We know that it is not easy to raise the issue of sanctions, but in principle, the United States has changed its position, made this story easier, and in the case of Russia, for example, has no problem imposing sanctions on Putin and his entourage. This is no longer a problem for them. We know that the Biden administration's foreign policy will be tougher and more principled in matters of democracy. Do you think that the Georgian Dream expects problems in this regard?
ZM - The situation is as follows - as far as sanctions are concerned, everything is ready. To take the example of different countries - everything is ready for any person, whether in the government or beyond, to be included in the list of these sanctions. Here, Moldova is an example of this, as well as Baltic republics. People from different positions were included in these sanctions lists. But what one should pay attention to, is the context in which Georgia is now. By the way, you mentioned but sanctioning someone seriously at this stage is simply not being considered. These are some considerations. I'm confident in that.
J1 - What pressure levers does the West have? We remember that Ivanishvili's government somehow avoided criticism. Maybe even now they manage to move somehow?
ZM - It is difficult to say what they will use and how everything will develop, but it is clear that the US government can impose sanctions on any person in Georgia at any time. Moldova is a good example because Plakhadnyuk worked intensively with the Americans, often visiting and trying to develop this relationship, and it seemed like a clear sky for him and his colleagues, but all of a sudden the State Department imposed sanctions on him for silently doing other work with Russia.
TS - Pavilionis does not have an impact on this. But now that the US embassy has made such a statement, it is much heavier than the 100 pavilions taken together. This tough statement from the US Embassy is the position of the state and it is not the statement of 1 or 2 influential congressmen. This is already the position of the state. This is very important and our government should take this into account. They did not paid attention to the statements of the individual congressmen. But now we talk about the embassy and ministry of foreign affaris, state department in our case, who announces an official position of the state. I am waiting what will announce the state department. It would be very hard for them if the department also makes a statement with an embassy. And, now I want to state one unprecendented thing. For the first time in 9 years I think that after the 2012 elections, the West has strongly supported Georgian dream and critized the opposition.
J1 - Yes, truly it was shocking news. I was even disappointed why they urged opposition to enter the parliament. I was little upset frankly. I am joking, of course.
TS - Evidence could not be submitted for falsification or documents could not be obtained or submitted, I do not know frankly. Then, the stubbornness of the opposition was perceived by the West as unconstructive. Against this background, when you finally defeat the opposition in the West and when you have been struggling to achieve it for the last 9 years, it was shock for me how they wasted such thing in no time.
J1 - Tornike, how do you see the development of the process? More and more people are getting involved in this story. There will probably be delegations and further visits. A meeting with the ambassador, the facilitators. Gharibashvili called on negotiation. The opposition has its conditions now - release the political prisoners and then we will talk. More and more people are talking about early elections in the West, not only in Georgia. It seems that the only way out of this crisis is to hold early elections. The political crisis is already openly stated.
TS - Given what we have gone through in its time, it can be said against the background that there was no such crisis. There was a worse crisis in 2009 probably. Therefore, from what is happening now everything goes logically prematurely, because I think there will be confusion and division within the Dream as well. Because there are also sane people are within the party.
They are very unanimous so far. Isn't that so?
J1 - Let`s talk with Tornike Sharashenidze now, International relations specialist, and then we will continue the talking. Welcome Tornike. Thank you for participating in our show. "Western Storm on the Georgian Dream" - this is how we can call Nika Melia Strum, and what happens all day. Do you think the Georgian Dream will withstand this storm?
TS - It will be hard. I think the logical end will be early elections. In fact, nobody was thinking that it may end up like this, not even opposition. It is unexplainable for me what they did. Not talking about moral, it not pragmatic. Because first they started to persecute Melia and in the situation when after the election the Dream defeated the opposition in almost every point because they had so much support plus the opposition could not bring out the required number of people to create some problems for the government. They should have left him in the office of National Movement, they might have negotiated in the end. Yes, Melia took off his bracelet and threw away and provoked the government but the throwing of the bracelet was completely overshadowed by the horrible footage we saw this morning. And I do not remember after November 7, similar criticism from the West. Even worse things happened on November 7, but 14 years have passed since then and should not the state move forward and learn from the mistakes?
J1 - Tornike, the involvement is very huge. Even on Twitter, Ben Hodges posted that terrible things happen in Georgia and it cannot continue like that, which was then retwitted ny Pavilionis who stated that “Yes, Ben, we all should be involved in protection of Democracy”. In other words, our friends and partners from different countries were urging each other and the mood is that we should not give Georgia to Russia. That's the mood. There is a lot of involvement and how do you see the development of these processes?
TS - I will tell you now. Pavilionis was nothing special. This man arrived a few days ago and, I think, did not represent the EU in any way and so on. It looked more like a personal initiative.
J1 - I do not think he took so much on his own initiative.
ZM - In which forms and how this was done is another matter, but we, Georgia, have also fallen into the category of associating with Russia, Belarus, and not with any civilized European country or the United States.
J1 - I understand, Mr. Zaza, but I want to stay positive and that`s why I will ask. Criticism of the Georgian government began a long time ago. We still remember the open letters to Gakharia, the terrible press about Ivanishvili in the West, but then they did not bother us - there was a pandemic, there were elections as well. The flaw in this election was more or less passed by the West, and there was no longer such harsh criticism of the Georgian government. Maybe because Ivanishvili seemed to be gone. It was separated somehow. The government was always critized but it was always underlied that Georgia was the valuable partner for them and I personally have never had the feeling that even when sanctions were mentioned, someone would impose sanctions on Georgia. I had a feeling that these sanctions would be either against Ivanishvili or against some official.
J1 - Has anything changed today?
ZM - There is and will continue to be a great love, respect and strategic partnership attitude towards Georgia. But if people living in Georgia do not want to support this attitude, nothing will come of it.
J1 - So, they want to see that this government is not acceptable to the population of Georgia.
ZM - By the way, it was a very good question, because lately we often hear that the West will help us. This is not just a one-way movement. We also need to do something to get their full help. They cant do anything for us, and in our imagination, for some reason, too many think that the West will help us, they will like what we are doing now and will help us with everything. This does not work like that in reality and this is very well known to the government.
J1 - I understand, though, I want to argue with you. All that you have said is true, however, what has happened today is in itself a very bad fact. Arresting an opposition party leader in a party office with assault, riot police, firefighting stairs, etc., is in itself a very serious story that needs no context. If you catch the leader of the opposition party like that you must have some very serious reasons for that, such as crime on sight, I don’t know. Above all, this is very bad fact for the government.
ZM - They will probably think that it will be very difficult to cooperate with them, but the West will not do the job for the Georgian opposition and the Georgian electorate. By the way, it is very strange, but for instance, West sees everything and cant understand: The Prime Minister who commited June 20, did everything starting from digging out eyeballs to ruining the economy, was seen off with hundreds of thousand likes, even the opposition party admired him who did not do anything for its country.
Journalist (J1) - As we have already seen, all day long the Georgian government is critiqued by, I don’t know, everyone. Every person who works on topics about Georgia: Foreign ministers, consuls, representatives of different international political organizations, experts, diplomats, politicians. Georgian governme is in very difficult situation. What can be the continuation? We will talk about this with Zaza Mamulaishvili, director of “Frontera Resources” and experts: Tornike Sharashenidze and Khatuna Lagazidze. We will try to analyze the consequences for the Georgian government of the step it took this morning - to storm the office of the opposition party. Thank you, Mr. Zaza, for participating in the show. Naturally, you were following the international response to the government's decision today. Probably not unprecedented, I remember such a sharp reaction from the West only on November 7th. I do not know, I can not compare. Then there was a crisis and a dramatic situation in the country, to which the then government was held accountable.
Georgian dream states that when they explain everything to the West, they will understand and everything will be OK. What do you think about this?
ZM - The thing are very bad, of course. It is good when the government has such optimism. They can explain it, but whether the West will accept this explanation or not is another matter. By the way, a lot has been said in Georgia and abroad, but we all need to focus on one thing: We have very bad press in the West: In USA, Europe…
J1 - There was an article in Washington Post which stated that Georgia may lose its Western ally and fall into Russia's hands. In all the articles and assessments, it is felt that they are on the side of the Georgian people and Georgia, but the government, Bidzina Ivanishvili, is a bit separated. Sorry to interrupt. I just remembered that you said "Georgia has a bad press".
ZM - Yes, it has bad press
J1 - Georgia or its government? Can`t it be separated?
ZM - Government is Georgia, like its people and opposition. Georgia looks bad and I will tell you why now. When the country is mentioned today in the context that the government has rightly or wrongly imprisoned the chairman of the largest opposition party as a result of such a large-scale operation, and this is when the case of Navalny, one of the biggest opposition to the Russian government, has not cooled down and something is published every week. It causes very bad associations for Americans.
ZM - Yes sir. Such footage comes mainly from Russia, Belarus and other countries. Such footage should not be taken from friends and partner countries like Georgia to Europe and America – where the Special Forces are taking over the office of the leader of the opposition party.