Another visit of Nino Burjanadze to Moscow

Another visit of Nino Burjanadze to Moscow

The former Speaker of the Georgian Parliament (2001-2008), the leader of the opposition party 'Democratic Movement - United Georgia' (DDEG), Nino Burjanadze, has visited the Russian capital once again for talks with "influential figures of the Russian political establishment", a source in her party explained to Vestnik Kavkaza. This time Burjanadze will not be able to meet Vladimir Putin. Apparently, Russia's top leadership does not consider it appropriate to pay attention to the opposition figure once again. At least as long as she hasn't proved her real influence during the elections and won the corresponding positions in the political establishment of the country. Otherwise, in the case of excessively large political investment in her future, Burjanadze's defeat in the upcoming 2016 elections may 'hit' the credibility of the Russian authorities.

Nino Anzorovna, knowing the correctness of her Russian colleagues, clearly relies on successful participation in the parliamentary race to resume a dialogue on a settlement of Russian-Georgian relations using a new position. Therefore, like the last time, she had only a conversation with the heads of the chambers of the Federal Assembly of Russia, but made a number of symbolic statements.

She has already marked out 'red lines' for herself, at least hoping for an understanding of her position: refusal to recognize Abkhazia and South Ossetia as independent states by Georgia, but not a demand for the abolition of Moscow's recognition. This refers to the refusal of the Russian Federation to use the 'Crimean precedent', that is, the inclusion of these republics in the federation.

If the Kremlin will accept such (in fact, not very onerous) rules, Burjanadze offers a positive agenda. Before flying to Moscow, she said that she is ready to initiate the restoration of diplomatic relations between Tbilisi and Moscow, although she is aware of "the existence of serious problems in this regard because of the existence of the Russian diplomatic missions in Tskhinvali and Sukhumi". However, this difficulty, in her opinion, can be overcome, as "Japan also considers the Kuril Islands as an area of ​​temporary occupation by Russia," which does not prevent Tokyo from maintaining diplomatic relations with Moscow.

Another topic of discussion with her Russian counterparts was the behavior of the ex-president of Georgia in Ukraine and his growing role in the neighboring country. Russian leaders realize that the Georgian politician Burjanadze is their natural ally against the new 'Ukrainian politician' Saakashvili. And on the eve of the visit to Moscow, Burjanadze warned her compatriots: "Anything that Saakashvili practices in Ukraine is the preparation of a base to return to Georgia." This assessment is not far from reality, given his plans to participate in the upcoming parliamentary elections in Georgia. Strange as it may seem, the authorities have not been able to strip the former president of Georgia and governor of the Odessa region of his Georgian citizenship.

But all these projects and common interests can be realized only in the case of success in the elections, while Burjanadze has only the status of the leader of the extra-parliamentary opposition. Nevertheless, Nino Anzorovna cannot be called 'marginal', at least with regard to her political past as a leader of the "Rose Revolution" and the long-term speaker of the parliament, who has performed the duties of the President twice (in 2003 and 2008). However, they will deal with her seriously in Russia only if she at least wins a significant position in the future parliament.

The 'Democratic Movement–United Georgia' party is considered to be the outsider in the race, where the main competitors are still Bidzina Ivanishvili's Georgian Dream coalition and Mikheil Saakashvili's 'United National Movement'. Could the DMUG be at least a third force? Much will depend on the country's international position and the position of its Western partners, as well as the Russian Federation.

Recently, Defense Minister Tinatin Khidasheli made an important statement on the BBC. According to her, the growth of "skepticism and frustration" regarding the West's willingness to contribute to the Euro-Atlantic integration of Georgia may lead to the strengthening of pro-Russian parties. Khidasheli talked about the NATO summit in Warsaw, which is scheduled for the autumn of this year, a few weeks before the parliamentary elections. "If Georgia won't be provided a roadmap to join the alliance at the summit, certain pro-Russian parties could appear in the future parliament," the defense minister warned, apparently referring to Burjanadze, as according to all the polls her ranking is still growing, but not very fast, depending on the discrediting of the pro-Western parties and their inability to get even the slightest bonuses for Georgia in return for unquestioning adherence in the mainstream of the "pro-Western course."

For example, the EU hasn't refused to grant the Caucasian country a visa-free regime or leave to join the NATO alliance, although Georgia's contribution to the peacekeeping operation in Afghanistan is immeasurably greater than the contributions of many other NATO associate members, and even full members of the alliance. It is more and more difficult for Georgian leaders to explain to people why and for what 29 young men have died in a faraway strange country, if no one is going to take the responsibility for the security of Georgia itself.

Burjanadze is skillfully playing on these sentiments, reserving an important place in the future parliamentary spectrum. And if by the autumn there will be serious disasters in the country on the basis of the deterioration of social conditions, Burjanadze may compete for something bigger than the opposition faction in the parliament.


Vestnik Kavkaza

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