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Interview with Sergey Grinyaev, Director General of the Russian Center of Strategic Assessment and Forecasts
by David Stepanyan
Despite Mikheil Saakashvili’s anti-Russian policy, some of Georgia’s key infrastructures are owned by Russia. Now that Bidzina Ivanishvili has own the parliamentary elections can we expect more Russian capital in that country?
Several companies at the territory of Georgia really belong to the Russian private capital. As for the Russian state capital, its share is not so much in Georgia, and will not grow much, at least, if the "Georgian dream" comes to power, Russian political expert. As for the private capital, here the situation is dictated only by the interests of business - if the administration offers interesting cooperation conditions, in that case the share of the Russian business in Georgia will grow. Georgia's example at the post-Soviet territory is not unique. In this context, we may remember the Baltic countries, which have been actively conducting the anti-Russian policy but at the same time existing at the expense of taxes for transportation of Russian cargo through the Baltic ports.
Throughout their election campaign Georgian Dream kept expressing loyalty to Georgia’s pro-western orientation. Was it just a pre-election move or will Ivanishvili continue moving westward in a view of the fact that the United States continues being the key sponsor of Georgia’s infrastructure projects?
The current foreign policy course of Tbilisi will be continued. Georgia will not get too serious geopolitical position. Neither will U.S. lose its influence in the region with change of administration in Georgia. I think that the scenario of changing power in Tbilisi is nothing but a process of manageable transfer of power from one controlled group to another controlled group. Therefore, President Mihkeil Saakashvili so easily became opposition. I think he would never do that but for his confidence in his future. Saakashvili needed 're-branding', indeed, because it has become too inadequate partner even by standards of the U.S. Department of State. Saakashvili's carrier of an inefficient manager ended when he got involved in the August War of 2008 and gained no dividends despite the West's support. Nevertheless, he believes that Saakashvili will not be left in trouble even now. He will go to reserve like many persons of his level who rose and fell on the CIS political horizon over the last decades. Nevertheless, the situation in Georgia may get out of control because the knot has got too tight in the given part of the region.
Besides the claims to sovereignty of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, Ankara openly claims Adjara. In addition, the social-economic situation in the country is getting worse. Therefore, 'managers from Washington' adopted a decision to change administration in Tbilisi,"
What changes can we expect in Armenian-Georgian trade-economic relations now that Georgian-Russian relations may change?
First of all, we should expect growth of commodity circulation between Armenia and Georgia, including at the expense of Russian cargo transit. We should also expect activation of the Russian business activity, for which the transport problems of communication with Armenia were important when calculating the economic benefit of the new projects. Moreover, in case of the new conditions, investments will be made in the transport infrastructure as well. I do not rule out that the Russian state capital will be also attracted. Undoubtedly, this will be a good sign for Armenia. Nevertheless, I would like to emphasize that there is still no ground to say that the situation in the Russian-Georgian relations will radically change.
Georgia is the key transit country for both Armenia and Azerbaijan. What geo-political transformations can we expect in the South Caucasus following the change of power in Georgia?
Indeed at present Georgia is an important element of the geo-strategical maneuvers of the superpowers in the South Caucasus. This is the reason of the scenario being developed in Georgia today, as the USA does not want to lose control over the political situation in such an important region especially that it has tense relations with Iran. I think that another problem - aspiration of Georgia to join NATO, is also linked with it. Anyway, at present I see no obviously positive tendencies which could define the nature of the bilateral Russian-Georgian relations at least for the mid-term prospect. I offer to wait for the traditional "100 days" of Bidzina Ivanishvili and after that we shall be able to make specific conclusions and even predictions.