Interview with Bloomberg

Madame President, thank you for giving us an interview. What do you feel and how do you see how soon you can move ahead with the EU candidacy and what can jeopardize this process for Georgia?

Well, I think we are moving towards EU candidacy, of course, thanks to Ukraine in the first place because this acceleration of the whole process would not have happened if it were not determined by this resistance of Ukraine, which has shown the whole of Europe that their security is linked to Ukraine and that Ukraine is fighting for our security. So, it has really changed the approach to enlargement and that is very important. For Georgia, we have done and the Georgian population has done everything they could over the past years to move towards Europe. We have had our share of struggle and battle. We have resisted, also Georgian resilience is a different character than that of Ukraine of course, because of the dimension, but Georgian resilience has been not less and each time there is a doubt about where Georgia wants to go the Georgian population shows where it wants to go.  So those are the reasons why we are very optimistic, we are going to have elections by next October and I am sure that one of the results and the main result of the elections whoever is elected will be the support for our European way, European orientation and that is what will get us further down the road towards the candidature enlargement and hopefully opening of the negotiations, as soon as possible. That is our road and I will support that road all the way as much as I can and in all forms.

What about the NATO’s expansion? What about the current situation? Do you think closer to NATO you become safer you are or not?

Of course.

Because in case with the Ukraine it shows that this is better for Putin, for Russia.

I don’t think so, that is not the explanation. The decision of Russia to invade Ukraine is one they took by themselves and it was not a reaction to something, it was an action, an aggression and I think that of course there is a red line that engulfs all the members of NATO and Putin does not dare to cross. That has been proven over and over again. And of course, for all the countries of the post-soviet space as Ukraine, Georgia, and Moldova it is clear that being within the NATO alliance is a way to be defended and protected and we don’t yet know any other way. The EU enlargement goes hand in hand with NATO enlargement and that is the orientation that Georgia has inscribed in its own constitution.

But how for example recent comments by Donald Trump make you worry?  If he becomes the president, can he weaken NATO, and whether in that situation NATO would be still a good way for Georgia?  

Of course, I will not comment on American politics, as that would not be proper, but what I can say is that in the same way as Georgia has no alternative to European integration and NATO integration, I do not think that the US has any alternative but to remain the biggest ally in a very strong alliance for their future. So, I am confident in there too.

You are familiar with this model that Ukraine also chose in the meantime when they signed bilateral security agreements with some of the NATO members right? Do you think this is a model that Georgia will be also acceptable and have you ever raised those questions in your discussion with the Western leaders, with the NATO leaders?  

I think it is a very good way, the same way as before the EU enlargement, the issue was progressing, there was an issue of getting into different EU programs to get closer to the European Union. In that same way getting closer to each and every major ally in the alliance is a very good intermediate way of course it does not change the ultimate objectives and it should not in any way either weaken or slow down the ultimate objective, but it is a very good way between to get support. Of course, today Ukraine is in more desperate need of these types of bilateral arrangements, so it's not a surprise that it starts with Ukraine, but if we can take an example, I think it will be an interesting example

So, you would be open to starting those negotiations or you would think that you would want to open that kind of negotiation?

Well, it’s not for me only to decide it’s for the government to decide. But I think that there is a very interesting example and it also of course depends on the willingness of the European partners to go down that line.

What concerns do you have that Putin, Vladimir Putin will step up his war effort in the Ukraine after he gets re-elected in March? How do you see the situation evolving in 2024?

Well, I think that he is stepping up in everything he can, and he is not waiting for re-election but that does not mean that he is not in the process of losing this war. He has lost it in many regards, it can last and it can drag but that’s all he is able to do. And I am sure and very confident that after the decision of the European Union, after the decision of the American Senate that we are going to see a stepping up of the efforts of the allies to support Ukraine because doing so is really supporting themselves. That’s what the Vice-President of the United States just said today and I think it is something that should be remembered by each and every European country.

We learned today about the death of Alexei Navalny. I would like to ask you about what are your thoughts about it but also, you have Mikheil Saakashvili who is also in a grave health situation…

I do not think that we can compare.

Just from a humanitarian point of view. For example, will you be able to grant him… 

No comparison. Comparison is no reason, and especially in this case. Georgia is not Russia. And I can only repeat that so many times. For what is this situation, this tragic situation with Alexi Navalny, if that is true if that is confirmed because his wife was just taking part in a conference right here, I think it will be disastrous and tragedy for human rights, democracy all around the globe. For the situation in Russia, it will only confirm what is a regime today in Russia but I think that for all of us around and in different parts of the globe it will be a tragedy. 

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