Tbilisi: Georgia's state and political activist Nino Burjanadze in an exclusive interview with Front News International has criticized the election campaign of Georgia, calling it nothing less than a farce; he talked about the prospects of Georgia joining NATO, he recognized the referendum in the Crimea region and accused Ukraine of "lack of intelligence".
Nino Burjanadze is a Georgian state and political figure, in 2001-2008 he was the chairman of the parliament of Georgia, in 2003-2004 and in 2007-2008 – he was the acting president of Georgia. In October 2013, he took part in the presidential elections in Georgia, where he took the third position, gaining just over 10% of the vote.
FNI: How do you assess the political situation in Georgia at the moment?
Nino Burjanadze: I simply rate all these presidential elections as been farce. Based on the fact that the ruling party "Georgian Dream" stated that it will not stand for election to the president and oligarch Bidzina Ivanishvili provides an opportunity to compete with independent candidates and candidates of opposition parties, and after some time they tied up the supposedly independent candidate Salome Zourabichvili, who herself declared that she would be an independent candidate. However, there were negotiations and she officially gained an open support for the ruling party; to the point that the ruling party directly announced that they would ask businessmen who finance the ruling party to finance Zurabishvili. Leaders of the “Georgian Dream” actively participate in the campaign of Mrs. Zurabishvili. That is a lie and it's already a farce, which gives us the right to say that the elections are not actually held freely and fairly.
FNI: Which of the presidential candidates will really be able to realize all the goals that they have planned in the presidential campaigns?
NB: I can frankly tell you that I personally refuse to be part of this farce, and unfortunately, I can say that not a single candidate making promises to the people now will fulfill them. Not only because they do not have the resources for this, but also because the presidential institute has been devoured, to an extent that the president has absolutely no leverage to somehow influence the foreign or domestic policy of the country. Actually, it has become more of a symbolic figure than the English Queen. That is, the figure has the title and palace in which he will live and there will be nothing more.
FNI: You just talked about Zurabishvili. She recently said that it was Georgia that provoked Russia for a conflict in the Tskhinvali region in 2008. Do you think such statement is justifiable?
NB: I will not comment on what Zurabishvili says. Shortly before this statement, in August 2008, I said that this conflict could have been avoided, and that Saakashvili, who really gave orders and began fighting was to blame for this conflict. This is my position, which coincided in a certain way with the words of Zurabishvili. Even after she was criticized, she did not hesitate to come out the next day and publicly give up her position. She allegedly said that Russia had started the war.
FNI: Do you support the entry of Georgia into NATO?
NB: No, I do not support it. Because on the territory of Georgia there are two Russian military bases. First, nobody will let us in and nobody accepts us in NATO. Even if a part of Georgia joins NATO, it will mean dividing the country into two parts, when there will be Russian troops in one part of the same country, and NATO troops will be in the other part of the same country. This means that the country will be divided and it is unacceptable for me. If there are important goals, for example, fighting terrorism is acceptable, but having NATO bases in Georgia or joining Georgia in NATO is harmful.
FNI: Now Russia is leading an open war in Ukraine. How can this conflict be resolved?
NB: I will not say that Russia is leading an open war with Ukraine. Unfortunately, Ukraine has made such mistakes that this confrontation has become completely real. If Ukraine behaved completely differently and rationally, then the Crimea would be Ukrainian today, and there would be no fighting in the Donbas.
FNI: How differently could they have behaved?
NB: It was not necessary to take the steps that Saakashvili took. When Yanukovych agreed on early elections, then it was not necessary to throw him off immediately on the second day. It was simply a coup d'état. It was not necessary on the second day to declare that those people who would speak in Russian would be imprisoned. Of course, Russia took advantage of this in its own interests and did what it did. And there is nothing surprising in this. The state is to blame for the lack of intelligence that has lost what has lost.
FNI: Do you think the Crimea is annexed by Russia?
NB: The referendum took place in Crimea.
FNI: Do you consider this referendum legal?
NB: You know, I am not a supporter of changing state borders. Although, based on the fact that we ourselves have a conflicting situation, these two referendums in Abkhazia and South Ossetia and in the Crimea, are different. In Abkhazia and South Ossetia, the people who lived there are the majority of the ethnic Georgian population who were expelled from the territory of these regions and could not vote during the referendum or even at the elections. And in the Crimea, a different situation occured, where a referendum was held and 90% of the population voted. And Ukraine had to understand that this reality could come, because pro-Russian people do not live in the Crimea region, only the Russians do. And they considered themselves as part of Russia. Despite certain contradictions in international law, in this case, Crimea used the principle of a self-determination of the people.
FNI: Former Minister of State Security of Georgia, Igor Giorgadze, said that he had at his disposal documents evidencing dangerous experiments conducted on the population by the “Lugar laboratory”. The Russian government and its controlled media claim that the laboratory is developing biological weapons. What is really going on there?
NB: Unfortunately, I can’t say anything about this laboratory, because it opened when I left power, but I don’t have reliable information. Well, of course, having such a laboratory on the territory of such a small country is unpleasant.
Ivan Rosada, FNI