Exclusive interview of the professor International Black Sea University, Director of the International Studies Center (Tbilisi) Mr. Nika Chitadze
1 - How would You describe current Georgian-Russian relations?
Taking into account, that the 20% of the territory of Georgia is occupied and Russia is not going to refuse the fact of the recognition of “independence” of Abkhazia and Tskhinvali District (so-called South Ossetia), it should be mentioned, that there are no perspectives of the restoration the diplomatic relations between the two states in the short and midterm perspectives. In the occupied territories of Georgia, number of Russian troops prevail 5 000 military servicemen.
It should be mentioned, that main purpose of Russia is not to support Abkhazia or so-called South Ossetia, but official Kremlin`s aim is to abolish or weaken the Georgian statehood or to force Georgia to change its foreign policy orientation. Accordingly (and it is also mentioned in the document National Security Concept) it can be expected the threat of the second direct aggression from the Russian side.
Today, official Kremlin uses more soft power mechanisms for the increasing its influence over Georgia. Particularly, funds some NGO-s and mass-media means and implements other methods of information propaganda etc.
From the other side, it is interesting to point out, that the Russia is the second foreign-trade partner of Georgia as to 2017. The volume of the trade between two countries in 2017 has prevailed 1 billion USD.
More than 1 million Russian tourists every year visit Georgia.
2. What can be expected from the oncoming NATO Summit in Brussels?
During the NATO Summit in Brussels, it is not expected to include to the agenda of the next summit the topic about NATO enlargement, or granting for Georgia the Membership Action Plan (MAP).
The main topics, which will be considered during the summit will concern the further relations with Russia based on the aggressive policy of the official Kremlin, especially after the declaration by Vladimer Putin about nuclear potential of Russia.
Also, more activation of the Alliance in the Black Sea Region will be cosidered. Among the other topics, it is expected the discussion about Syrian crisis, situation in the Middle East and Afghanistan, nuclear program of Iran and missile problems of North Korea.
In my opinion, taking into consideration the current realities, the NATO member states will review the main approaches for the strengthening of the Trans-Atlantic links between American and European partners of NATO.
3. Which position of Georgia in the projects of energy transit and security?
In order to ensure the Georgia`s energy security, the further diversification of energy sources and transportation routes represents the priority direction of the energy policy of Georgia. It is considered as an equally important to support the development and modernization of the country’s energy systems, as well as their integration into regional energy infrastructure. The further promotion of Georgia’s energy capacity will be positively reflected on the strengthening independence, providing state security, socio-economic development and increasing the standard of living of the citizens of Georgia. Strengthening the energy independence is a great necessity for the national security of Georgia. For the implementation of this goal, it is crucial to diversify the sources of energy.
The importance of Georgia, as the transit country with the convenient geopolitical and geographic location has been increased, when in 1994 the “Century Contract” related to the producing and transportation to Europe the Caspian oil had been signed.
The perspectives of the producing and transportation of the Caspian oil and gas and the possible role of Georgia, as an one of the “main player” within the East-West Transport corridor, not only attracted the attention of International Community toward this South Caucasus country, but created the more opportunities for the activation Georgia`s foreign policy.
Energy transit and Eurasian Corridor, is one of the main factor for the increasing the interests toward the Caucasus Region by the West. At the first years of the restoration of the independence of Georgia, the Europeans considered the issue – is Georgia a part of Europe? But at the modern times, due to the several economic, geopolitical etc. including energy factors, Georgia is one of the active member of the EU “Eastern Partnership” Program.
Taking into account the convenient geographic location, Georgia can get the economic and political benefits from the transit of the Caspian oil and gas, furthermore, the projects, related to the Caspian energy reserves, can become one of the key factor for the restoration of the territorial integrity of Georgia.
Georgia is a part of important energy corridors. Georgia is aware of its role in supplying the rest of the world with energy resources from the Caspian Sea and Central Asian regions via alternative routes. Georgia’s Black Sea ports, the Baku-Supsa (capacity- 5 million tones per year) and Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (capacity- 50 million tones per year) oil pipelines, and the Baku-Tbilisi-Erzurum gas pipeline (capacity - 8 billion cubic meters of gas per year) are already active and strategically important projects. Georgia is determined to ensure the effective functioning of these existing projects and to develop prospective new ones - first of all TANAP (Trans Anatolian Pipeline) project, capacity of which can reach 32 billion cubic meters of gas.