TBILISI, DFWatch — There have been sharp exchanges between the majority and minority just three days after the new parliament started a new season.
The candidate for foreign minister today visited the parliamentary committees on euro integration and foreign affairs.
Maia Panjikidze said Georgia under President Mikheil Saakashvili’s leadership has had a wrong policy towards Russia, and that Georgia has made many concessions to its northern neighbor without getting a corresponding result in return.
“We have made many concessions to Russia, but it is interesting what we received in response,” she was quoted saying.
“They have visa freedom, ideal conditions to do business and hold strategic objects. I think the results are not proportional to what concessions we made to Russia,” she said. “Strategic objects” is a reference to the fact that many of Georgia’s vital infrastructure assets, such as Enguri hydro power station, have been sold to Russian state-owned companies, even after the 2008 war.
Giorgi Baramidze from the National Movement and former State Minister for Euro-Atlantic Integration, disagreed and said Georgia has received great things in return, specifically many tourists and investments.
His answer led to a long dispute between the majority and the minority.
Panjikidze said it doesn’t matter if 100 tourists more have entered the country, but the minority told her she isn’t familiar with the statistics.
Addressing the issue of restoring diplomatic relations with Russia, Maya Pankidze said this will not happen as long as there are Russian embassies located in breakaway South Ossetia and Abkhazia.
She says it is possible to open up lines of communication about more light topics like cultural and economic relations, but prepared receipt of how put in order those relations doesn’t yet exist. Georgia will take steps to get country to dialog, she said.
The parties failed to reach agreement, but decided to end the debate in order to move on to other topics.
February 2012, President Saakashvili decided to allow all Russians visa-free travel to Georgia as a demonstration that Georgia wants to repair relations with its northern neighbor.
Russia then demanded that Georgia removes a law which makes it a crime for foreign citizens to visit Georgia’s occupied territories without permission from Tbilisi, a crime for which they may be prosecuted upon arrival in Georgia afterwards and may even lead to prison sentence.
Despite this, the number of visitors from Russia has significantly increased since then.