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How Does Gamkrelidze Intend to Regain the Break-Away Territories

December 27, 2007

The Human Rights Center is carrying out polls regarding the future plans of action of political parties and presidential candidates. The Center requested the candidates to provide their vision regarding the Abkhazian and Tskhinvali regions. Davit Gamkrelidze was the first and only candidate who replied to the Center. Here is the plan of action of Gamkrelidze.

The Human Rights Center: What will be your first steps to restore the territorial integrity of Georgia?

Davit Gamkrelidze: I do not agree with the government’s attitude to the issue which is based on the idea that authorities of the separatist regions are marionettes of the Russian government and it is useless to negotiate with them. In order to resolve the conflict it should be treated in complex manner in which official and unofficial contacts will play important role.

 I intend:
* To establish direct contacts with separatist regimes. Thus, soon after my election I will travel to Sokhumi without any pre-conditions and will personally start a dialogue with Mr. Bagapsh. I will discuss the prevention of violence and hostilities between us.
* To find out the interests of Sokhumi and Tskhinvali, in their dangers and problems;
* To be ready to foresee reasonable interests of Sokhumi and Tskhinvali within the Georgian territory.
* To support the active participation of the European Union and its member countries, as well as other states, international, governmental and non-governmental organizations into the conflict-resolution process. Involvement of Abkhaz and Ossetian people in the activities organized by them exposes these people to Europe and western countries in general as an alternative to their current course towards Russia. Just the opposite, the isolation of the conflict zones from Europe based on some groundless reasons, promotes Abkhazian and Ossetian societies to take a wrong direction;
* To show to Abkhaz and Ossetian societies the positive nature of western integration and make them part of the western orientation of Georgia;
* To make the negotiations with Russia more active. I think that improvement of Georgian-Russian relationships is possible if we do not aggravate the situation ourselves I would like to conduct consecutive and less provocative politics with Russia. It will positively influence conflict resolution. Our position on vital problems of Georgia will not be pliable to Russia; though it will not be aggressive. I will try to lessen the relationships with the government of Russia in the near future through an active dialogue and negotiations that will reflect on conflict resolution as well.
* To consider the replacement of Russian peacekeepers with international forces;
* To build a united and democratic Georgia together with the Abkhaz and Ossetian people.

The Human Rights Center: What will you do if Russia declares the Abkhaz and Tskhinvali regions independent?

Davit Gamkrelidze: Similar hypothesis and opinions are mentioned very often. However, I do not think we will have to start such a discussion because Russia prefers to maintain the current situation in the conflict regions and use the situation against Georgia as long as possible. Nevertheless, as soon as I am elected, I will start discussing the scenario of independence with Russia as well as discussing possible reactions of the National Security Council. I will also start discussions together with our allies. A similar coordination will be necessary in case our reaction is not to leave Georgia alone against Russia, but we need influential supporters. In addition, I will reinforce diplomatic activities to inform the whole world about the reality and to gain the general support of international organizations and leading countries. Besides, Russia should be warned that such a step will increase tensions in the Northern Caucasus where Russia managed to subdue separatist movements and established an imaginary peace.

The Human Rights Center: What is your plan in case Kosovo is declared independent?

Davit Gamkrelidze: Kosovo’s independence does not mean much for Georgia if it does not damage the interests of our country. In other cases I refer to paragraph 2 of the plan of action. The only negative consequence of it will be hope for Sokhumi and Tskhinvali and the negotiations will become more tense.

The Human Rights Center: What is your plan in case we face an unleashing of hostilities in the break-away territories, as a result of certain provocations?

Davit Gamkrelidze: Georgia will oppose such a situation with corresponding force; will coordinate with its supporters and take a more active role on the diplomatic front.
The Human Rights Center: What is your opinion about regaining the lost territories through military force?

Davit Gamkrelidze: I condemn all kinds of hostilities. I think that such activities will hinder our reconciliation and a short-term “victory” will distance us from a complete solution to the problem.

Nona Suvariani