‘TALK TO ME OR TO NOBODY ELSE’
08 September, 2011

Political scientist thinks that this formula in relation with Abkhazs has become outdated.

‘We mast realize that the formula ‘talk to me or nobody else’ is unacceptable for the progress. Mr. Ankvab (so-called President of Abkhazia) said even before the elections that he was ready for negotiations with Georgian authorities without any preconditions; whether Saakashvili would be in the government or not. This was a distinct and different note in the boring Russian boring tune regarding the Georgian issue; especially when it concerns negotiations’, said Soso Tsiskarishvili, a political scientist. Here is an interview with him.

Q. – As it was declared by the President of Georgia, last year 2 million tourists visited Georgia and this year their number was 3 million. Saakashvili hopes that this process will increase by geometric progression. How compatible are reality and prognoses?

S.T. – The ambition of a country to become a touristic center should be welcomed in case the responsibility of such pretension is correctly apprehended. We all know that our service sector does not correspond the expectation that Georgia will earn the title of a super-touristic country.

The word ‘million’ has become an easily pronounced word for our authorities. Maybe because they very easily, without much effort get and appropriate their own millions. There is not a single public lavatory along multi-kilometer beach of Ajara coast. Which tourist would go to a resort where he’d have to run from the beach to his home in order to satisfy his natural needs?

Tourism development shouldn’t begin with building fashionable ‘Sheraton’ and ‘Kempinski’ hotels but with arranging elementary infrastructure. It’s a well-known expression – if you want to know in what kind of a country you are, you should see a market, a cemetery and public lavatory. Introduction of new tax system for the resort zone dwellers made the rent higher and consequently decreased the number of local tourists. In order to make it a tourist country there is a lot more to be done. No falsehood can be hidden in tourism. It isn’t a sphere where one can achieve success by a front-end.

Q. – Last week elections ended in the self-proclaimed republic of Abkhazia. As declared by Leonid Lakerbaia, head of the winner candidate Aleksandr Ankvab’s headquarter, he doesn’t expect progress in Georgian-Abkhazian relations: ‘We see coexistence only in recognition’. Both sides should participate in the series of meetings of politicians and experts. However, one side considers that endless meetings make no sense; and the other side speaks about the necessity of establishing relations between the Abkhazs and Georgians. What is you opinion?

S.T. – No progress has been observed in our position. The same propositions have been voiced since 1990; the same terms are used when speaking about the puppet government hired by the invaders. Nothing will be achieved that way. I’m quite sure that the phrase of Georgian as well as of European and American terminology, referring to these territories as invaded and Russians – as invaders, is absolutely objective but permanently insulting the people living in Abkhazia will do no good either to Abkhazia or to Georgia.

We have to realize that the formula ‘talk to me or to nobody else’ is unacceptable for progress. Mr. Ankvab (so-called President of Abkhazia) said even before the elections that he was ready for negotiations with Georgian authorities without any preconditions; whether Saakashvili would be in the government or not. This was a distinct and different note in the boring Russian tune that had been voiced regarding the Georgian issue; especially when it concerns negotiations’.

The negotiations should be preceded by a dialogue between different layers of people, without discussing agreement and status. It should be the restoration of usual human relations that the Georgians and Abkhazs never found difficult to keep through centuries. First of all there is a big prospect for professional and youth ties, sports competitions as well. I don’t necessarily mean rugby where smashing of each other’s faces is allowed. At least let’s play chess with Abkhazs. I myself was a member of negotiation process and I consider the contacts established with the Abkhaz NGO sector as effective.

Naturally, it wasn’t easy but we achieved a result. The main thing is to select candidates for this process without involvement of the authorities. Everybody, even very radically minded people should have a chance to participate in these meetings. It’s important for both sides to realize that before discussing concrete issues they are ready for communicating with each other. Before we start thinking about brotherhood we should eliminate enmity. We should realize that we can live without fear and hate. Before thinking about something else we should at least live in normal neighborhood. But before we come to this position, Tbilisi as well as  Sukhumi, must admit that nothing can be achieved if we stick to our own positions.

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