Tbilisi Mayor Denies NATO Tradeoff Remarks Print E-mail
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Saturday, 16 January 2010 16:36

Tbilisi Mayor, Gigi Ugulava, has strongly denied saying that Georgia would give up its NATO aspirations if Russia withdraws from breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

In an interview published by a website of Newsweek Russian edition on January 15, Ugulava was quoted: “If Russia pulls out its troops from Abkhazia and South Ossetia, in exchange Georgia, for example, will say no to NATO membership.”

“But I do not think that such step will be taken. Those relations, which currently persist between our countries, are not an appropriate format in which it will be possible to talk on fundamental issues. Personal dislike between Putin and Saakashvili should be put aside; it is time to launch talking. But it is up to Russia to start it,” Ugulava, who is President Saakashvili’s close ally running for re-election as the capital city mayor, was quoted.

But in a statement released on January 16, Tbilisi Mayor’s press office said that the interview published in the Newsweek Russian edition “contains multiple inaccuracies.”

“The most important one among those is the Mayor’s alleged statement on giving up NATO aspirations in exchange of liberation of Georgian territories by Russian occupying forces.”

“Mr. Ugulava has never suggested that Georgia’s NATO aspiration is conditional and could be bargained,” the English-language statement reads. “NATO integration is the strong will of Georgian people as confirmed by the results of the plebiscite conducted on 5 January 2008.”

“The Mayor is in no position and has no intention to ignore the will of Georgian public. Moreover, the Mayor himself is a strong supporter of Georgia’s membership to NATO and considers it as one of the key elements of Georgia’s foreign policy,” the statement reads.

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Civil Georgia, Tbilisi / 16 Jan.'10 / 16:38
http://www.civil.ge/eng/article.php?id=21891