Igor Kapyrin is a Deputy to the Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation to the Council of Europe.
By Nana Tabatadze
How would you evaluate situation in Caucasus region?
Right now not only Caucasian but all the post-soviet countries are undergoing hard political time, especially, Caucasian region with questions about territorial integrity issues. The democratic development of all our countries is a complex process. I’m very sorry that the relationships between Russia and one of the Caucasian states are complicated. I think that the President of Georgia, Mikhail Saakashvili complicated the relationship between Georgia and Russia that were already difficult after the collapse of Soviet Union.
What is your view about possible ways out of the current situation?
There’s no simple answer. It’s hard to say. One of the points is that some problems are already out of date. In addition to this, I think that more openness of the states, more communication, transport connections, more human and trade relations will have positive impact. Connections are even now. There are flights and transports between the two capitals, Georgians live in Russia and Russians live in Georgia. There are still connections between nations, which are not depending on elections.
In my opinion, time should pass and it will help. Most important is that national identity and development of Georgia should not be based and focused on anti-Russian feelings. At least, that is how I would like it to be. I’m really sorry if Georgians think of Russia as an enemy. We are not enemies. Everyone should make decisions by themselves and should be less dependent on government policy.
What does Council of Europe to improve relationships between those two countries?
We are not right now directly working on improvement of Georgian-Russian relations. However, I can assure you that each employee of Russian diplomatic mission is ready to work on this issue. With the initiative of Georgian delegation present at the Council of Europe, a big share of attention is dedicated to the situation in regions affected by the “August conflict” or Georgian conflicts – Abkhazia and Ossetia-.
There were interesting offers connected to humanitarian situation in the region but there are also different obstacles such as Georgian law about occupation or Georgian Strategy about Abkhazia and South Ossetia, etc… Anyway, there are unilateral steps and decisions about the issue, however if we are talking about Abkhaz and Ossetian people, I emphasize the fact that we should ask Abkhaz and Ossetian people themselves.
I think and I see that dialogue is in process. The point is that Georgian youth and Russian youth should be willing to sit and talk to each other and try to find way out on their own. They shouldn’t stick on political aspects like who is the president or what will happen when a new president comes.
What can you tell us about Georgian delegation to Council of Europe?
They are pretty handsome people. Relations were pretty good until at the point it got worse. The point was when Georgia broke off diplomatic relations with Russia. However, it does not stop us to greet each other while meeting in hallways, to smile and ask how we are. During sessions we often criticize each other but this is part of our job, it’s our professional life.
However, any political discussion should be framed in some rules, should be based on respect. I would prefer it were this way during discussions with Georgian delegation, too. After “August war” we are in constant debates and I’m sorry that we are losing time which could be used for more productive and useful activities.