Interview with Tatyana Parkhalina

In an interview to RT, Tatyana Parkhalina, the Director of the Centre for European Security, said in order to improve its relationship with Georgia, Russia should take into account the emerging political forces in Georgia.

Russia Today: For the last two years we've seen various accusations from Georgia. We've seen various actions taken by Russia in response. It looks like the latest in the tit-for-tat saga?

Tatyana Parkhalina: First of all, I’d like to say that this is a very sad story. Historically, Russia and Georgia were allies, and now they are becoming adversaries. I don’t think this is productive for either of the countries. There have been accusations from both sides. If you ask who’s responsible, I think both. The main question, however, is what should be done.

I think the main thing is that public opinion in both countries should be prepared for positive relations. Probably we need a sort of Georgian-Russian public forum to discuss and analyse the key problems of bilateral relations, as well as to give advice to politicians.

The current domestic situation in Georgia is extremely difficult. We all know that two days ago one of Mr Saakashvili’s former friends and allies accused the Georgian President of corruption and attempting to mislead his political adversaries.  So now that Georgia is on the eve of parliamentary and presidential elections, the situation does not contribute to establishing good relations with the country. Still, Russia should try to do this.

RT: The Georgian President has voiced strong concerns about the missile found on Georgia’s territory two months ago. Mr Saakashvili has publicly called on the UN to become involved in the conflict. Moreover, just several hours ago he stood up in front of the UN, accusing Russia of interfering with his country’s affairs. He even mentioned the word ‘terror" in his speech. Do you think he is really being listened tom in the UN?

T.P.:The address by Mr Saakashvili was fully predictable. It’s well known that Russian diplomats expected such a move. Of course there are people in the UN who watch very closely the development of bilateral relations. The current regime in Tbilisi is oriented towards the West. The reason is Moscow’s politics regarding Tbilisi in the last two or three years. Going back to the question of what should be done, reasonable political forces both in Georgia and Russia still do exist. I think they should unite their efforts instead of opening real confrontation between the two countries. In this respect, I rely a lot on the business community because the economic inter-relationship between the two countries is very strong.

RT: Where do you think the relations between the two countries will go from here?

T.P.: We have to wait and see the outcome of the struggle between Okruashvili and Saakashvili. In this struggle they are going to use different instruments. After the elections on both levels it will become evident who is the victor. Russia, for its part, should shape relations not only with the government but also with different political forces.