Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Interview with Nino Burjanadze (Asaval-Dasavali)

The following is my translation (from the original Georgian) of Burjanadze's interview with Georgian newspaper Asaval-Dasavali published in the August 10 issue.

Last August, Saakashvili asked to meet with you a few days before the war. Did he ask you for your opinon on any issues?

Yes, I did meet with Saakashvili on August 3, 2008. Apparently, he had already taken a decisive step and wanted to see what my reaction would be! This was the first time that he had asked to see me after my depature from the government. At that time, tensions were high in the country and that's why I agreed to meet with Saakashvili.

I remember it perfectly. On August 3, a Sunday, at 5 o'clock I entered the residence. We talked for almost an hour and twenty minutes, and I told him very clearly that a war with Russia would only end in catastrophe for Georgia. I told him that there was no question that Putin would get involved in this war and that there was no question that Georgia would lose this war!

Who else attended the meeting?

No one, we were alone.

And what did Saakashvili tell you?

He said that we would take Tskhinvali in one night, that's when I told him that things wouldn't turn out the way he planned and also that the capture of Tskhinvali would not solve the problem! I also told him that even if we get South Ossetia back by military means, we would lose Abkhazia for good, and Saakashvili agreed with me!

During this meeting, Saakashvili also promised me that he would not start a war and that he would not be drawn into any military operation, but...

Besides this meeting, I remember other meetings at the very same Avlabari residence, at his Tserovani residence, and in his office where I often had very heated debates with Saakashvili and his inner circle. They would flex their muscles and say that the Russians have rusty tanks, that we would win the war, that we would crush them and advance all the way to Moscow!

We know that there was a military operation in Samachablo [a region that now lies entirely in South Ossetia], but why did we lose Kodori Gorge [aka Kodori Valley, now part of Abkhazia]? How do you explain the surrender of Kodori?

Just now, on August 7, I was listening to Saakashvili's statement where he said he was planning on going to Kodori Gorge, but that had he gone, he wouldn't have had a phone and wouldn't have been able to call foreign countries. What century does he think this is? What about satellite phones? Or does the president only use landlines? Either he was lying or he was once again demonstrating his unprofessionalism.

The abandonment of Kodori Gorge was planned! No one could have taken Kodori Gorge. It didn't remain part of Georgia's jurisidiction after the war in the 90s by chance. Kodori is a naturally impregnable fortress and no one could have bombed it!

The order to abandon Kodori was a criminal one and whoever gave that order should be sent to prison. I am convinced that the time will come!

It doesn't matter if it will happen in a year from now, or in ten, Burjanadze or someone else will be in power, and whoever was responsible for the surrender of Kodori Gorge will be sent to prison.

Someone must be held responsible for this war! Someone must be held responsible for our boys who ran half-naked from Kodori while we were out standing on Rustaveli, singing, and not telling the people that at this very moment we were losing Kodori Gorge!

This is a mockery which can never be forgiven! When this man asks for forgiveness, God will not forgive him!

[Note: this is not the first time that Burjanadze has referred to this meeting before the war. She mentioned it in an interview just a few weeks after the war.]