Georgians 'very much in favour' of cooperating with Azerbaijan

Wed 25 May 2011 | 09:42 GMT

News.Az interviews Dr Hans Gutbrod, the Tbilisi-based regional director of the Caucasus Research and Resource Centre.

How strong is the opposition movement in Georgia at the moment and how dangerous is it for the ruling authorities?

Right now, we don't see a lot of appetite for radical change in Georgia, as you can see from the data.

Can you imagine a pro-Russian president in Georgia in the near future? And would this help Georgia to regain its lost territories?

There is not much support in Georgia for pro-Russian policies. Georgians want a constructive relationship with the Kremlin, but by and large they don't trust that they will get anything in return. They look around and see that being an ally is only marginally better than being an enemy of Russia.

A Georgian Muslims Committee has recently been created beyond the control of the Caucasus Muslims Department. This was followed by remarks by a Russian theologian of Azerbaijani origin, Heydar Jamal, that Georgia plans to stage a coup in Azerbaijan. Do you think that there are forces in Georgia who are against cooperation with Azerbaijan?

In general, the Georgian government values its relationship with Azerbaijan. They are major partners, economically, even if politically the styles are very different. Georgians are very much in favour of cooperating with Azerbaijan.

What are the similarities and differences in Russian policy towards conflicts in Georgia and Azerbaijan?

I think the similarities between Russian policies towards territorial conflict in Azerbaijan and in Georgia are that in both cases the policy is logical in the short term, but it doesn't make that much sense long-term. Ultimately, if Russia wants to have a stable Caucasus, a constructive approach to the conflicts would be useful. Russia doesn't seem to be doing much to overcome these conflicts, to its own detriment.

What is your attitude to the idea a “Caucasian Home”, some kind of federal state involving Azerbaijan, Georgia and Armenia?

With regards to a Caucasian Home, I think all of the countries need to address the critical problems they have at home. Once they have done that, they would be in better shape to cooperate with each other, and some of that cooperation will then come naturally.

Leyla Tagiyeva

NDI survey, collected by CRRC

"The surveys suggest that Georgians have little appetite for radical change, at this point.

"They want things to improve, but there certainly isn‘t a majority thinking that everything in Georgia is going in the wrong direction.“




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