Fresh from Lisbon, the site of perhaps the most important NATO meeting since the end of the Cold War, Georgian Deputy Prime Minister Giorgi Baramidze visited RFE to share his insights
on topics ranging from Georgia’s integration into Europe and NATO to the political situation in the breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Osettia. He was joined by Nina Nakashidze, Georgia’s Ambassador to the Czech Republic.
Baranudze's most controversial statement came when he floated the possibility of a Georgian boycott
of the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, Russia.
Baramidze began his remarks by noting successful Georgian efforts to become a more open society and to fight corruption. The evidence supports his claims. Prior to the Rose Revolution in Georgia, which catapulted Mikheil Sakaashvili to prominence, corruption in Georgia was rampant. The 2003 Transparency International Corruption Perception Index ranked Georgia 124 out of 133. By contrast, the 2010 rankings
show significant improvement: Georgia is now ranked 68 out of an expanded pool of 178 countries. Baramidze, though, pressed the need for further progress in civil society and governance for the nation’s emergence as a prosperous, 21st century European state.
On EU relations, Mr. Baramidze was unequivocal about Georgia’s place in the broader European context, noting Georgia’s historical ties to Europe. Though he placed no timetable for Georgia’s ascension into NATO or the EU, he said that Georgia is “on its way” to membership in both organizations.
Baramidze did not rule out a boycott of the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics. The Deputy Prime Minister listed two Georgian objections to the Sochi games: Russia’s “continued military presence” in the “occupied territories of Abkhazia and South Ossetia,” which he called “modern [acts] of barbarism.”
He also pointed to Russia’s ongoing fight against an insurgency in the North Caucasus region
-- just a few hundred kilometers from Sochi -- telling the audience, “What’s happening in the North Caucasus is practically a war.”
-Joseph Hammond and Ed Hetz