Mamuka Jgenti, 36, is Ambassador of Georgia to the Council of Europe. Graduated from law, married, two kids, he plays tennis and listens to classical music when he is not seating at the Council of Europe. He talks about its daily work, Russian-Georgian relations and European integration.
By Sopo Mgaloblishvili and Mariam Jachvadze
It’s already one year you are representative of Georgia in Council of Europe, what is your main achievement while working here?
Step by step we are improving our relations and the position of Georgia within the Council of Europe. I can mention different positive achievements which we went through during this year, but I can’t really identify any concrete achievement, because doing that might somehow downgrade something else. At this stage, I think that Georgia’s voice is heard and taken into consideration.
What are your main goals and objectives while working in Council of Europe?
It’s very unfortunate, but the reality is that we have to concentrate on issues which we would prefer to be solved. For example, the restoration of Georgian territorial integrity. We are also trying to be actively involved in all the processes related to Georgia. My main objective is to move from the kind of benefiting country to a status where we are not only donating, but also sharing our experience and our culture to other countries. We are a European country, have an European culture, so we also have a lot to share with our European partners.
What obstacles do you face while working in Council of Europe?
The main obstacle is that Georgia is a member of the Council of Europe, as well as Russia. You know how Russian diplomacy is working; it’s called “Bulldozer Diplomacy” -aggressive diplomacy-. On a daily basis, I feel Russia’s presence with the same statute, rights and obligations as Georgia within Council of Europe. This makes my professional work much more difficult. It’s much easier for me to work in international organizations where Russia is not a member state.
What is the position of Council of Europe about Georgia –Russia conflict?
We know that the conflict between the Russia can’t be solved over night. The Council of Europe fully supports Georgia sovereignty, but it is not an institution that has to deal or solve security or military issues. Council of Europe is mostly oriented on human rights and humanitarian issues. The Assembly is regularly following the developments in order to evaluate the consequences of Russian invasion and ongoing occupation of Georgia.
Council of Europe was the first international organization that managed to make the action plan effective, in relation to occupied Abkhazian region of Georgia for example. Nowadays, other international organizations are able to follow this good example, so it was very important for us that the Council managed to be a pioneer in this cooperation.
Joining and improving relations with European institutions are one of the main objectives of the Georgian Government, what are the chances of Georgia in becoming member of European Union?
The same questions was asked in 1993-1994, whether Georgia would be able to join or not the Council of Europe. It took some years but in 1999, we have joined the Council of Europe. European Union is not only values; the process of integration is much more complicated, even countries declared as candidate countries took years to prepare themselves for becoming members. It is not only about human rights or democracy, but also about economical, financial criteria, which all countries have to comply.
We are working hard on European integration in order to join the European Union. It is very difficult to say an exact date, but we are moving very fast. Currently, we are mostly dealing with comprehensive and deep free trade agreement, at one stage we might also get the visa free agreement, but you also should consider what is going on at the moment within the European Union -financial crisis-. EU should also be ready to accept new members. I cannot predict, but it will take some years.
If you could define Europe in three words?
Space of free people.