Russia still in Cold War mentality, Georgian defense minister says
Defense Minister Alasania has criticized Russia over its policies.The Russian political leadership is still caught up in confrontation-mentality, which is the Cold War mentality, Georgian defense minister claimed, as he outlined the strategy of the current government to overcome challenges stemming from conflict with Moscow.
In an interview with the Turkish Policy Quarterly magazine’s fall edition, Irakli Alasania said Georgia’s new, more pragmatic policy towards Russia is not something they thought would yield results in a matter of months, or even a year. “This is a strategic decision from our side. In order to achieve our goals of being a part of the European family or the Atlantic community, we need to normalize our relationship with Russia, or at least diffuse the rhetoric, the tension. We did not have any illusion that Russia would change its positions, its policies towards Abkhazia or the Tskhinvali region, the territorial integrity of Georgia, or Georgia’s integration to NATO,” Alasania told the magazine.
Russia fought a brief war with Georgia, pushing Georgian forces out of two breakaway regions, Abkhazia and Ossetia.
“Our goal is to not give any pretext for the Russians to attack us politically, to attack us via escalation, so I think pragmatism indeed provided us with the options to start a trade relationship with Russia. I think it is always better to talk and have something on the agenda rather than not to talk and be only involved in military rhetoric and confrontation,” he said while criticizing Moscow for not responding adequately to their steps.
“This week we received the news that the Olympics main torch carrier will be a Russian military pilot who bombed Georgian villages in 2008. This again demonstrates that the Russian political leadership is still caught up in the confrontation mentality – the Cold War mentality. This is something that tests our political leadership, whether we are solid in our decision to achieve our goal with these pragmatic measures,” he said.
“I think all of this gives Georgia the upper-hand in the international community. Because we are now looking mature and forthcoming, and Russia looks immature and emotional. That is exactly the goal Georgia set for itself. The Germans, French, Dutch, and others had questions about whether Georgia is stable enough, mature enough to be brought closer to NATO or the EU. We can now make a completely opposite argument,” the defense minister said. Georgia initialed an association agreement with the European Union at a summit in Vilnius last week. The deal is expected to bring the post-Soviet country closer to the Western bloc.