Abkhazia Must Return to Georgia – Georgia’s Ex-President Eduard Shevarnadze

Georgia, Tbilisi, 16 May / Trend corr E. Rustamov/ Trend 's interview with Georgia's ex-President Eduard Shevarnadze:

Question: Will the official Tbilisi use force to solve Abkhazian problem?

Answer: Georgia supports peaceful settlement. Now or afterwards Abkhazia must return back to Georgia. We are not only sister nations, we always lived together and had joint families and that is the Georgian land. In order to solve this problem, I suggested to establish the Senate and Congress like the one in the USA. The Senate must be headed by an Abkhazian, who will have the right to veto any passed document if it contradicts with Abkhazians' interest. Present Georgian President offers Abkhazians the Vice-President position. I support peaceful settlement of the Abkhazian conflict.

If Abkhazia proclaims independence, I think Russia will not support that, because Russia is also a multi-nation country including such republics as Tatarstan, Dagestan, Chechnya, and they will also strive for independence. If Russia supports independence of separatists in Georgia, then that will be deplorable for it also.

Question: Do you agree with reports that Georgia has become the base of the USA and Russia's collision of interests?

Answer: I do not think that Georgia is the bases where interests collide, because the same may be said about Ukraine, Belarus and other countries. We are in very friendly relations with Americans, like it used to be with Russia. Americans helped us with money and Russia was the place where we sold our products.

Question: How much will Moscow's policy change for the CIS, particularly Caucasus, during Dmitriy Medvedev's presidential term?

Answer: Medvedev is unlikely to change anything about Putin's policy. As to Putin, we could work with him. Against the will of Parliament, Georgia entered CIS after which Tbilisi and Moscow held long talks. When Putin was resting in Sochi he called me and said "Would you come here to my place? I am alone here, without my family. Let's rest here together." I answered that I am busy but could visit him for only two days. Then he said "There is a train line from Sochi to Sukhumi. It would be better to extend it to Sontreva." I asked Putin to return the Georgian refugees to the Gal region. He hung up the receiver, called the commander of peacekeeping forces and ordered to inhabit the refugees, which was later implemented. He promised and kept his word. I mean, Putin is a person with whom it was easy to work with. Both Putin and Medvedev are persons who can be easily communicated with. For that, there is a need to go to Moscow frequently and tell that the break away of Abkhazia and Ossetia from Georgia is impossible.

Question: What impacts do the intentions of Tbilisi and Kiev to enter NATO have on the Russian and Georgian and Russian-Ukrainian relations?

Answer: Russia is not glad at Georgia's intentions to enter NATO. The NATO membership is not only the initiative of current President, when I was the head of the state; I also met with the Western diplomats and discussed this issue. But Russia did not worry about it that much at that time. As to today, I can say that if you want to undermine relations, you can use any excuse.

Question: What do you think of the upcoming parliament elections and possibility of Opposition's coming to power?

Answer:We had a very bitter experience when the President was elected in the beginning of 2008. In spite of the violations during the elections, the President could gain only 53% of the votes. There will no that much violation any more as the people are struggling for their votes.

Question: What plans do you have for future?

Answer: Though I am 80 years, I feel very good and I have a good memory. I have various ideas and I can write one more book. My book was translated into Azerbaijani by Imir Mammadov, who was born in Georgia and speaks very well Georgian. He translated the book Knight in Tiger-Skin into Azerbaijani as well.

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