Saakashvili Hails Belarus in Interview with Belarus State TV

Civil Georgia, Tbilisi / 16 Jul.'10 / 17:53

Georgia has "huge, huge sympathies towards the Belarus people" and Tbilisi enjoyed with Minsk's support whenever it needed, President Saakashvili said in an interview aired by the Belarus state TV station on July 15.

Saakashvili said that during Georgia's presence in Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) and also afterwards, "when there was a need of supporting each other, Belarus was always supporting [Georgia]."

He said that after Russia imposed embargo on import of Georgia's key export products, during the CIS leaders' summit in Minks in November, 2006 the leaders were served with Georgian wines and mineral waters. "By the way, the Russian leaders were also drinking our wine [at that summit]," Saakashvili added.

Saakashvili said that many people chose to fly from Georgia to various destinations via Minsk not only because the route was one of the cheapest, but also because "there are simple procedures and well-disposed custom officers" in Belarus. "A general climate itself attracts you [to Belarus]," Saakashvili said.

He said that Russia still continued "pressing Belarus" to recognize "our occupied territories - as the world now refers" to Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

"I think the Belarus will act wisely," Saakashvili added.

On Russia and its leadership, Saakashvili said that it was "hard to understand what they want."

"Anytime when we were conceding something, they wanted more and more," he said and added that Moscow was offering Tbilisi a choice between "bad and worse", which Georgia had rejected.

Speaker of Russian State Duma, Boris Gryzlov, said that allocating airtime to the interview with the Georgian President by the Belarus state-run television station was "an unfriendly step in respect of Russia."

Russia's state-funded English-language satellite channel, Russia Today, described airing of Saakashvili's interview by the Belarus state TV "as a gesture of goodwill to Tbilisi" and "a way to irritate Moscow."


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