08TBILISI2498, SCENESETTER FOR SECRETARY RICE’S MEETING WITH

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
08TBILISI2498 2008-12-31 10:52 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Tbilisi

O 311052Z DEC 08
FM AMEMBASSY TBILISI
TO SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 0647

C O N F I D E N T I A L TBILISI 002498 
 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/29/2018 
TAGS: PGOV PREL RU GG
SUBJECT: SCENESETTER FOR SECRETARY RICE'S MEETING WITH 
GEORGIAN FM VASHADZE 
 
REF: TBILISI 2495 
 
Classified By: Ambassador John F. Tefft for reasons 1.4 (B) and (D). 
 
OVERVIEW 
 
1.  (C)  New Georgian Foreign Minister Grigol Vashadze's 
first visit to the United States will be an auspicious one, 
featuring the signing of the US-Georgian Charter on Strategic 
Partnership.  The Georgian government is enthusiastic about 
the content and timing of the Charter, viewing it as a major 
recommitment of the US to Georgia's sovereignty and security. 
 Vashadze will likely tell you that this is exactly the kind 
of message needed in the current international environment. 
Vashadze will lead a group of Ministers and the Supreme Court 
Justice to the signing to underscore the seriousness with 
which the Georgian government plans to implement the 
agreement. 
 
2.  (C) Vashadze is looking forward to discussing with you 
the current challenges facing the country, specifically what 
is viewed in Tbilisi as the continuing Russian threat.  As 
the main Georgian interlocutor with the Russians for the past 
year, Vashadze will be able to give you his personal 
assessment of the current Russian approach.  The visit 
provides us the opportunity to commend the Georgians for 
their continuing restraint in the face of ongoing 
provocations from both South Ossetia and Abkhazia.  Vashadze 
will likely be interested in discussing the future of 
international monitoring, in the wake of the recent failure 
to renew the OSCE mandate for Georgia, and the possible 
threat to UNOMIG renewal in February. 
 
 
THE SECURITY SITUATION 
 
3.  (C) Georgian leaders hope that with the onset of winter, 
the prospects for renewed Russian violence toward Georgia 
have declined.  Nevertheless, they remain worried that the 
Russian army or FSB will encourage further attacks or 
provocations on the boundaries with South Ossetia and 
Abkhazia.  There is particular concern in Tbilisi (and among 
European Union Monitors and UNOMIG monitors) about the 
possibility of the Abkhaz/Russians seizing three pieces of 
still Georgian-occupied land on the north side of the Enguri 
River, the de facto boundary with Abkhazia.  There is also 
government and public concern that Georgian policemen 
continue to be killed or seriously wounded in cross-border 
shootings or attacks by the South Ossetians and Abkhaz, as 
well as possible Russian snipers. (para 2 Tbilisi 2495) 
 
4.  (C) Vashadze's visit provides an opportunity to applaud 
the Georgians' restraint in the face of these continuing 
provocations from both South Ossetia and Abkhazia into 
undisputed Georgian territory.  You can also draw out 
Vashadze on Georgian thinking regarding future relations with 
the territories.  President Saakashvili and Vashadze told 
Matt Bryza three weeks ago that they accept the "carrots and 
sticks" policy which we suggested be applied toward the 
territories.  The government has not, however, spelled out in 
any detail its plans for the regions. 
 
 
GEORGIA WITHOUT THE OSCE AND UNOMIG? 
 
5.  (C) Georgia has long said that no OSCE mandate was better 
than a bad one which would in any way recognize the 
independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.  However, the 
Georgians would clearly prefer the continuation of any and 
all international monitors if suitable arrangements can be 
worked out. They know that now Russia has blocked the renewal 
of the OSCE mission in Georgia, practical issues must be 
addressed.  They will want the EU to continue its mission, 
despite the Russian refusal to permit monitors into South 
Ossetia or Abkhazia.  Your meeting with Vashadze will present 
an opportunity to discuss the future of the UNOMIG mandate. 
So far the Russians and Abkhaz continue to hang tough in 
QSo far the Russians and Abkhaz continue to hang tough in 
their insistence onrevising the name of UNOMIG in order to 
legitimize the government in Sukhumi and Tskhinvali. 
Vashadze will likely seek your views on coordinating 
international pressure on the Russians to permit the 
continuation of UNOMIG, when the  mandate comes up for 
renewal on February 15, 2009. 
 
 
GENEVA - WHERE WILL IT LEAD? 
 
6.  (C) Vashadze and Deputy Foreign Minister Bokeria have 
been the key Georgian representatives at the Geneva talks. 
Although they recognize little progress has been made, they 
see value in keeping the forum going.  Ironically, Geneva 
provides the broader international forum on both territories 
which the Georgians have been seeking for years.  With the 
next round of Geneva discussions set for mid-February, we 
suggest you draw out Vashadze on Georgia's expectations for 
the future.  He is well aware that the next round will be in 
the hands of the incoming Administration, but we believe it 
is worthwhile to encourage him to be creative in the Georgian 
approach to the discussion. 
 
 
ECONOMIC CHALLENGES AND APP POTI PROPOSAL 
 
5.  (C) Vashadze can brief you on Georgia's efforts to manage 
the economic fallout of the war and even more now the 
international economic crisis.  So far Georgia is managing 
but the international credit crunch is starting to slow 
business and lead to layoffs.  We expect that Vashadze will 
thank you for the continuing ship v
isits by the Sixth Fleet 
(the USS Taylor was in Poti this week).  He has also told us 
he may raise the idea of opening a small US post in Poti 
(i.e. American Presence Post).  While it is clearly in 
Georgia,s interest to have an official American presence 
near Georgia,s major Black Sea port and close to Russian 
positions in Abkhazia, it also could provide the U.S. with 
much more direct knowledge of events in western Georgia. 
 
 
VASHADZE - A DIFFERENT KIND OF FOREIGN MINISTER 
 
6.  (C) Grigol Vashadze (known as Grigory or Gia to his 
friends) was appointed Foreign Minister by President 
Saakashvili on December 10, 2008.  Prior to taking up his 
position, he served as Minister of Culture for approximately 
one month and as Deputy Foreign Minister for nearly ten 
months.  He had been brought to that position by Saakashvili 
to help him work with the Russians.  Vashadze is different 
from the other Georgian Foreign Ministers you have worked 
with.  Now 50 he served as a Soviet diplomat earlier in his 
career and then as a businessman in Russia.  He has both 
Georgian and Russian citizenship.  Born in Tbilisi, Vashadze 
graduated from Moscow State Institute of International 
Relations in 1981.  He then joined the Soviet Ministry of 
Foreign Affairs, while simultaneously receiving a master,s 
degree in international law at the Soviet Diplomatic Academy. 
 During his career at the Soviet Foreign Ministry, Vashadze 
represented the USSR at chemical weapons negotiations.  He 
was asked to leave the Foreign Ministry in 1987 when -- 
according to his account -- he took Gorbachev's perestroika 
too seriously for his superiors.  At that time he fell in 
love with and married Nina Ananiashvili, then already a 
famous Bolshoi prima ballerina.  Vashadze helped manage her 
career and developed business interests in Moscow and then in 
New York, when Ananiashvili became the first Soviet dancer to 
appear as a guest performer at the New York City Ballet in 
1988.  She subsequently became a principal dancer for the 
American Ballet Theater in 1993 and in 1999 joined the 
Houston Ballet.  Vashadze returned to Georgia with his wife, 
when she was appointed Artistic Director of the Georgian 
Ballet in September 2004.  Ananiashvili is also the godmother 
to President Saakashvili,s youngest son, Nikoloz. 
 
 
TEFFT

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