10TBILISI177, GEORGIAN OFFICIALS HOPE FOR CONTINUED FRIENDSHIP

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
10TBILISI177 2010-02-10 14:47 2011-08-30 01:44 UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY Embassy Tbilisi

VZCZCXRO0597
PP RUEHIK
DE RUEHSI #0177 0411447
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 101447Z FEB 10
FM AMEMBASSY TBILISI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 2840
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY

UNCLAS TBILISI 000177 
 
SENSITIVE 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: PREL PGOV UP GG
SUBJECT: GEORGIAN OFFICIALS HOPE FOR CONTINUED FRIENDSHIP 
AFTER ELECTIONS IN UKRAINE 
 
1. (SBU) Summary.  Georgian government responses to the 
apparent election of Victor Yanukovych in Ukraine has been 
generally positive, with all following President 
Saakashvili's lead in congratulating the Ukrainian people for 
their well-run election.  Additionally, officials from 
Saakashvili to the MFA have noted their belief (and hope) 
that relations would not be impacted negatively by the 
victory of a candidate commonly viewed from Georgia as a 
friend of Moscow.  Despite the upbeat comments, Georgian 
private opinion has been more mixed, with concerns expressed 
about the loss of a strong ally in the region.  End Summary. 
 
MISHA OFFERS CONGRATULATION AND COMPARES PROGRESS 
 
2.  (SBU) Senior Georgian officials including President 
Saakashvili struck a positive tone in public responses to 
election results out of Kyiv.  Stressing the importance he 
places on remaining Ukraine's "friend," Saakashvili 
complimented Kyiv on the election results and process and 
stated that, regardless of who won, Georgia would remain 
Ukraine's partner.  He went on to note that Georgian 
officials have good contacts with both the Tymoshenko and 
Yanukovych camps, and he expressed hope Georgia would retain 
its good relations with the new Ukrainian president.  Citing 
Georgia's interest in a strong and economically successful 
Ukraine, Saakashvili noted that the absence of a unity 
government had constrained Ukraine's economic development. 
While generally positive in his comments to the press, 
Saakashvili also made a point to differentiate Georgia and 
Ukraine, citing statistics showing how far ahead Georgia was 
in eliminating government corruption and simplifying the tax 
system.  Additionally, he stressed that Georgia was no longer 
a "post-Soviet country" and was among the "most developed" 
states. 
 
3.  (SBU) After expressing his personal satisfaction with the 
process, and saying the rest of Europe would envy the manner 
in which the election was conducted, Saakashvili also 
discussed publicly the issue of Georgian election observers. 
Saakashvili confirmed that Georgia did not send election 
observers for the second round due to "misunderstandings" 
that took place in the initial voting, in reference to claims 
of interference by Tymoshenko opponents, who held up 
transcripts of phone conversations about the issue which took 
place between Tymoshenko and Saakashvili. 
 
PARLIAMENT, MFA JOIN THE CHORUS 
 
4.  (SBU)  In remarks on Georgia television, Parliamentary 
Speaker Davit Bakradze expressed his hopes and "deep 
confidence" that friendly relations would continue between 
Georgia and Ukraine.  Bakradze said that strategic 
partnership would continue based on their traditional 
friendship and good neighborliness which has always existed 
between the two peoples.  On February 8, Ukrainian Ambassador 
to Georgia Vasili Tsibenko met with Georgian Deputy Foreign 
Minister Davit Jalagania to pass the results of the second 
round, as well as discuss areas for future progress in the 
bilateral relationship.  In public remarks, Deputy Foreign 
Minister Nino Kalandadze noted that despite reports of 
Yanukovych's victory, she saw no "cracks" in the strategic 
partnership and that despite skeptical attitudes about danger 
in the future of the relationship, she was convinced that 
relations would continue to be excellent regardless of the 
president. 
 
CHATTERING CLASS LESS OPTIMISTIC 
 
5.  (SBU) Independent Georgian experts took on a less 
optimistic tone in their comments following the presidential 
elections, with some making the obvious point that t would 
be highly unlikely for Saakashvili to have as good a 
Qbe highly unlikely for Saakashvili to have as good a 
relationship with either Ukrainian candidate as he has with 
President Yuschenko, who is godfather to his youngest son. 
Giorgi Khutsishvili from Tbilisi's International Center on 
Conflict Resolution noted that both Tymoshenko and Yanukovych 
have expressed interest in better relations with Moscow, 
which is a sign of a changed political environment in the 
area that Tbilisi can not ignore; Georgia would have to 
modify its tough line towards Russia or risk increasing its 
vulnerability.  Former Georgian Ambassador to Russia Zurab 
Abashidze noted that while Yanukovych was certainly the 
preferred candidate of Moscow, he would likely still pursue 
good relations with both Russia and the West.  Georgian 
Institute for Public Affairs analyst Tornike Sharashenidze 
took on a more positive tone, stating that a more pro-Russian 
Ukraine will cause U.S. and European influence to be much 
more focused on the Caucasus and Georgia than before. 
BASS

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