“Crimea is Russia” – Nino Burjanadze (IPN)

TBILISI, DFWatch–“Crimea is a part of Russia, and will never come back to Ukraine” – Nino Burjanadze, former speaker of the parliament and former acting President of Georgia, said during her visit to Moscow.

“Crimea is part of Russia. I can say that I do not see any chance of Ukraine to get it back.”

“This is not a pro-Russian stance, it’s just a statement of fact,” Burjanadze said in an interview with television channel Russia-1,” quoted by news agency RIA Novosti.

“I do not think there are signs that people in Crimea were forced to vote [in favor of joining Russia]. For me it was not a surprise,” Burjanadze added.

On Friday, she met with Sergei Naryshkin, the speaker of State Duma, Russian parliament’s lower house, in Moscow to discuss prospects of Georgian-Russian dialogue.

Nino Burjanadze, leader of Democratic Movement, attends international roundtable International Legal Problems of the 21st Century in Moscow by invitation of the State Duma.

Sergey Naryshkin is on a sanctions blacklist over the crisis in Ukraine and Finland’s refusal to grant him an entry visa two weeks ago provoked a diplomatic row between Moscow and Helsinki.

In Moscow, she gave several interviews to Russian media slamming Georgia’s current and former governments’  pro-EU and pro-NATO politics.

“Georgia should be a Western democratic country, but it does not mean that it necessarily requires entering into any [international] organization,” Burjanadze said to NTV, a strongly pro-government Russian TV channel.

“In my opinion, what is happening now in Georgia, that the main goal is NATO or EU membership, is fundamentally wrong. We must acknowledge that no-one in NATO will welcome us in[…] NATO membership is not realistic and doesn’t fit our interests,” she said.

Russian politicians have showed readiness for dialogue with Georgia, unlike their counterparts in Tbilisi, she added.

In the interview with NTV, Burjanadze also said that the people’s mood in Georgia has been gradually changing and more Georgians no longer consider Russia an enemy.

Burjanadze, a member of Rose Revolution ‘triumvirate’ that brought Mikheil Saakashvili to power in a revolution in 2003, didn’t miss a chance to snap at her former ally.

“I am sorry for Ukraine and the Ukrainian people because I know the real price of Saakashvili’s reforms,” Burjanadze said. “On the other hand, like many Georgians, I feel insulted by the Ukrainian government, which by this appointment [Saakashvili as Odessa governor] just slapped the government and the people of Georgia[…] It is insulting and outrageous.”

Burjanadze was speaker of parliament and served twice as acting president, in 2003-2004 and 2007-2008. She went to Moscow in 2010 and met with President Vladimir Putin, at a time when official Tbilisi shunned the Moscow leadership. Since then, many Georgians have considered her pro-Russian, a label she disapproves of.

The Georgian leadership does not need to be afraid of what would be called pro-Russian, in her view.

“We need to be pro-Georgian and really understand that pro-Georgian interests include the normalization of relations with Russia,” Burjanadze said.

In the presidential election in 2013 she came third with 10.2% of votes.