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Georgia's Vice PM Urges Western Economic, Security Support After War with Russia

Interviewee: Georgi Baramidze, Vice Prime Minister of Georgia
Interviewer: Robert McMahon, Deputy Editor
September 9, 2008

A group of leading Georgian politicians visited both major U.S. presidential nominating conventions this summer to solicit U.S. support in the aftermath of Georgia's military defeat by Russia. One member of the group, Vice Prime Minister Georgi Baramidze, spoke to CFR.org on the sidelines of the Republican convention in St. Paul, Minnesota, and said he was encouraged by the support expressed by leaders in both U.S. political parties.

Baramidze said Western economic and financial backing is vital in the next several months to revive Georgia's economy and bolster the institutions of the fledgling democracy. He also stressed the need for military cooperation, saying "one cannot feel secure and one cannot count on strong economic growth and develop a democratic system if there is no security on the ground."

Georgia also is eager for an international peacekeeping presence in the separatist regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, now under Russian control. Baramidze repeated Georgian offers of wide autonomy to both regions, which split from Georgia in 1992, and said Russia could be part of any agreements on guaranteeing the autonomy of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, once its forces leave. "We are absolutely ready to compromise on everything but territorial integrity," he said.

Baramidze dismissed the views of some policy experts that expanding the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) to the restive South Caucasus region was premature and has provoked Russia. "One cannot suggest the world to abandon its values and ideals and principles just because somebody feels these principles and values and ideals are provocative," he said.

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