Russia does not have a veto on Georgia’s foreign policy and billionaire Bidzina Ivanishvili does not rule the country, the Georgian president has said.
The president, Giorgi Margvelashvili, spoke to EUobserver in Brussels after meeting Nato and EU leaders earlier in the week.
There is no imminent prospect of Georgia joining either of the clubs.
But Nato said it will boost military aid to Georgia at its summit in Warsaw in July. Top Nato and EU officials also urged the country to ensure that its October elections are free and fair.
Margvelashvili’s visit came after a controversial statement by Ivanishvili. The billionaire banker, who made his fortune in Russia, created the ruling Georgian Dream party and is believed to exert strong influence on the government.
“We must … wait for the right time, when Russia realises, and when our allies see that it’s time for Georgia to become a member of Nato and the EU,” he said on TV on 2 June.
His comment indicated that Russia had a veto on Georgia’s foreign policy. The president told EUobserver that this is not the case, but he said Russia is a “factor” in policymaking.
‘Russia can’t veto Nato membership’
He said the war in Ukraine showed that Russia is ready to activate any of the frozen conflicts in its neighbourhood in order to retain influence there.
“It’s ready to destabilise half of the Eurasian continent if need be,” Margvelashvili said.
“It’s not about predicting where the next problem will be. It’s about creating an effective early warning system in the region”.
South Ossetia referendum
One Russia-occupied part of Georgia, South Ossetia, is to hold a referendum on joining Russia in the next few months.
Meanwhile, opposition parties in Georgia have raised the alarm that Ivanishvili is trying to stay in control by seizing media and by using dirty tricks.
Full article: Russia ‘ready to destabilise half of Eurasia’ (EUobserver)