Extracts from the interview of Giorgi Baramidze, Vice Prime Minister of Georgia with New Europe on 23 July 2012 1

 Giorgi Baramidze has been a central figure on the Georgian political landscape for the last twenty years. He started his political career as a member of parliament of the Green Party and was a close associate of its leader Zurab Zhvania. He remained a close associate of Zhvania until the latter’s mysterious death in 2005. After the 2003 “Rose revolution” Baramidze became the second most important member of Zhvania’s team in the revolutionary leadership, serving first as interior minister and later as defence Minister. Shortly before Zhvania’s death his star waned somewhat and he was pushed upstairs as Deputy Prime Minister with responsibility for European integration. Baramidze retains some popularity at the grassroots and there are reports that he may be fielded as candidate for the ruling United National Movement in his old constituency of Didube in Tbilisi. 

On Reforms

“We did make very significant progress in these areas; fighting corruption, police reform, healthcare reform, education reform, judiciary reform, but still, we need to do more. Now we are meeting another important date, elections in Georgia, and it needs to be done according to highest standards”.

On the elections

“I can tell you from our side that what worries us, that the Russians are preparing for something……They are preparing two military exercises. They first announced something for September, and then when they heard we are having elections in October, they postponed it to October. They said they are going to participate in some kind of exercise, in case of confrontation between the west and Iran. We don’t think that Russia is going to take either side, so which conflict are we talking about? We have great concern about this, because it is not only in Russian territory, because the troops are going to be stationed also in the occupied territory. As well as our southern neighbour Armenia, so this exercise is conducted in inside Georgia and around it”.

On the Opposition

“Into this situation we see one [opposition candidate Bidzina Ivanishvili] who has all his fortune originated from Russia, who is the biggest single shareholder of Gazprom, and also other stateowned Russian companies, declared that he’s going to be prime minister of Georgia. So how he is going do that if he’s not counting on something outside Georgia. It’s not clear. I mean certainly, there is a polarized situation in the country, and additional tensions, and he said he will buy everyone, press and politicians using this money that is already united from Russia illegal and he already committed several acts against the Georgian law that prevents bribery of the electorate”. “We know that the same person [Ivanishvili] already hired many lobby companies from Europe and United States, and is going to organize parliamentary monitoring with false monitors, and conduct some not independent opinion polls while saying that he doesn’t trust independent opinion polls conducted by different organizations like National Democratic Institute and others. I’m saying that all these different opinion polls are showing that our party, the National Movement, is far ahead of his political party”.

source New Europe

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