Georgia is ready to wait for voluntary return of Abkhazia, South Ossetia – Georgian minister

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(Interfax – TBILISI, August 26, 2013) Georgian Reintegration Minister Paata Zakareishvili believes the people of Abkhazia and South Ossetia will make a final choice between Russia and Georgia over the next several years.

“We will always give them [the people of Abkhazia and South Ossetia] a chance to choose between a developed Georgia and a Russia of those times. That will take some time, 7-8 years. We need to wait during that time,” Zakareishvili told reporters on Monday.

Zakareishvili said he believes the war with Russia brought Georgia more harm than its recognition of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

“August 8 [the beginning of the military conflict between Georgia and Russia in South Ossetia] brought Georgia worse results than did August 26 [the date when Russia recognized the independence of South Ossetia and Abkhazia], when Russia made a huge mistake, proceeding from its own state interests,” Zakareishvili said.

By recognizing the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia Russia lost all influence in the Caucasus, he said.

“The problem with Russia is that it always had power that was based on force, and it always made mistakes when it made political decisions that were independent of force,” Zakareishvili said.

Zakareishvili said that Russia freed Georgia of its fears and obligations because the issue of whether or not Russia would recognize the independence of Abkhazia and South hung over Georgia like “the sword of Damocles” until August 26, 2008.

“Russia did not want Georgia to enter NATO and [Russian Prime Minister Dmitry] Medvedev [who was then president of Russia] admitted then that by doing so they stopped Georgia’s NATO ambitions. Russia may have prevented them then, but it became even clearer to Georgia that staying in a space dominated by Russia was absolutely unacceptable to it,” Zakareishvili said.