By Salome Modebadze
Manana Manjgaladze, press speaker of the President of Georgia Mikheil Saakashvili, confirmed that Saakashvili congratulated Alexander Lukashenko for his victory in the presidential elections in Belarus by phone on December 21. According to preliminary information, the acting President Alexander Lukashenka received around 79% of votes causing controversy among the opposition. Highlighting the goodwill between Georgia and Belarus through traditional cooperation on a wide spectrum of issues, Manjgaladze had stressed earlier on the same day that President Saakashvili's administration would have considered the summaries of Georgian and international observing missions about the presidential elections before making the final comments and would comment only after the final publication of the results.
The US condemned the actions taken by the Government of Belarus undermining the democratic process and use disproportionate force against political activists, civil society representatives and journalists, and we call for the immediate release of all presidential candidates and the hundreds of protestors detained after the elections. Denying the legality of the results of the presidential election announced by the Belarusian Central Election Commission, the US regretted that the limited progress in the political environment prior to elections did not lead to a free and fair outcome or a transparent vote count in the country.
But as a matter of a fact the announcement about Saakashvili's congratulation to Lukashenko along with the leaders of Venezuela and Kazakhstan was posted on the Belarus President's website with other congratulations to Lukashenko for being re-elected for a fourth term as President of Belarus. According to the same source, Russia's President Dmitry Medvedev "reacted positively" on election results. At the press conference on December 20, Lukashenko stressed that cooperation between Belarus and Georgia should not be viewed as detrimental to Russia. "Georgia is an interesting country for us in many terms," he said and added that Belarus bought Azerbaijani oil a number of times and used Georgia as a transit route. "Prospects for our cooperation are not bad but you should not understand our relations as cooperation against Russia. But let's build our relations together with Russia. Georgian, Russian and Belarus people will benefit from that," he said expressing his respect towards Georgians in response to a question from a Georgian journalist about relations between Georgia and Belarus.
As analyst Giorgi Khutsishvili explained to The Messenger Georgia along with other post-Soviet Union countries should consider the existing circumstances and try to cooperate with Belarus. "The fact that Belarus is far from democracy is commonly known but Lukashenko is the only strong leader nowadays. This country has made particular steps to support Georgian unity by denying the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia and cooperation between Georgia and Belarus won't have any negative impact on Georgia's partnership with the international community," Khutsishvili told us stressing that Europe has been trying hard to balance Russian-Belarus relations which has seriously changed for the last years and Belarus developed as independent state.
The peaceful initiatives confirmed by President Saakashvili at the Geneva Talks remain unanswered from Russia. Talking on the inadequate approach of the Russian Federation towards the initiative suggested by the President of Georgia, Manana Manjgaladze stressed that the Georgian Government remained loyal to the initiative and expressed their full readiness to start dialogue with Russia on any issue. Encouraging Russia to become engaged in investigations concerning terrorist acts organized by Russian officer Evgeni Borisov on Georgian territories, Manjgaladze emphasized that the Russian side has been provided with thorough information about the September-November attacks but in vain.
Commenting on the initiative suggested by Giorgi Targamadze, the leader of Christian-Democratic Movement (CDM), about supporting Russia's integration to WMO in return for locating international forces at the customs points of the occupied territories, Manjgaladze highlighted that the President's Administration remained firm with its position on this issue but offered to start negotiating with Russia at the round table.
Sakaashvili's press speaker spoke of the importance of simplifying the visa regime with the European Union with great political support from the west. "Democratic society has expressed their trust towards our statehood and people. Simplifying the visa regime with the EU would be an important advantage for the Georgian people promoting trade and economic cooperation among all sides," Manjgaladze commented on the ratification of the agreement at the European Parliament in previous week.
The Government of Georgia is responsible for preparing the action plan against inflation - foreseen as the main problem for next year - which will be introduced to the President in a fortnight. According to the information released by the President's press speaker, the Government will use all the possible levers and resources to protect the Georgian citizens from the problems caused by the increase of prices facing the whole world. Sharing the position of President's Administration on all of the burning issues of recent days Manjgaladze hesitated to comment on the scandal around the leader of the Georgian Party Levan Gachechiladze as this issue according to Manjgaladze has been "outside of the interests of the Administration".