Eduard Shevardnadze: Georgia does not want to wage war on Russia

Eduard Shevardnadze: Georgia does not want to wage war on Russia
# 12 October 2006 10:42 (UTC +04:00)
Georgia President Eduard Shevardnadze’s exclusive interview to APA

- What is the real reason of the tenseness of Georgia-Russia relations?
- Everything began after Russia’s economic sanction to Georgia for law-quality products. I appeared on television and expressed my opinion. I suggested the presidents of the two countries to meet. But the meeting did not take place. Russia made obstacles to the import of Georgian mineral waters, wines and fruits. It applied visa regime to Georgians. Some days later Russia Defense Minister Sergey Ivanov made severe and aggressive statement. He said Russia will defend its citizens wherever they are. He meant Abkhazia and South Ossetia residents who acquired Russia citizenship. The minister implied that Russia will enter Abkhazia and South Ossetia. But after three days Ivanov stated that Russia does not want to occupy Georgian territories. Georgian President Michael Saakashvili appeared on TV twice and said that he is ready to meet with Russia president anytime and anywhere. Bur Putin did not react to this. American government suggested its mediation between the two states. I think Russia did not like it. Politicians like Jirinovski demand the government to break the relations with Georgia. There are over half million Georgians in Moscow. Can Russia cut their ties with Georgia? Russian people’s attitude to Georgians is not bad.
- Some politicians think the reason is withdrawal of Russian military bases from Georgia and stationing of NATO ones there. Do you agree with this?
- I do not exclude these facts. During my presidency I was trying for Georgia’s admission to EU and NATO. But NATO then Secretary General Verner said that Georgia will access to the organization after Bulgaria, Romania and Ukraine. NATO helps us in army formation. The main task is to restore the relations with Russia.
- Can hostilities begin between Russia Georgia?
- Russian Defense Minister said that they do not want to wage on with Georgia. We also do not want it. Georgia is not strong enough for military operations against Russia.
- I would like to ask some questions about your private life. How do you live on?
- I receive pension of 550 lari. I got high salary when I was USSR Foreign Minister. Most of the services were free and my wife Nauli collected money. I receive royalties from publication of my books. My son, Paata lives in Paris and works in UNESCO. My daughter Manana lives in Tbilisi with her husband Giya Chokhtaberidze. He is a businessman. His phone company-Magti was checked during the revolution in Georgia. They found nothing, but attested him. He was released after paying US $15mn to the government. Now I live in the state-owned house and working at the book about Georgia’s history of recent 15years. I wrote a lot about my friend Heydar Aliyev in the book.
- Does the authority contact with you?
- Former Prime Minister Zurab Jvania was in frequent contact with me before. Now they call me only to make exact the events which happened during my presidency. I have no contact with president Saakashvili.
- What can you say about Azerbaijan?
- Heydar Aliyev was my best fried. His Son Ilham Aliyev worked in USSR Foreign Ministry. I was asked to dismiss him after Heydar Aliyev was discharged at Gorbachov’s initiative. I said that that Ilham Aliyev is professional and refused to dismiss him. But he quitted later. I met with Ilham Aliyev after some years in Baku. He is my little friend. Convey my best greetings to him.