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President's interview with Etonian Public Broadcaster - Eesti Rahvusringhääling

As a part of her official visit in Talin President Salome Zourabichvili spoke to Estonian Public Broadcaster - Eesti Rahvusringhääling


TV: You have frozen conflicts with Russia…
Mrs. President: It’s not a frozen conflict, they’re occupied territories. Frozen conflicts, it was before. As to the occupied territories, yes it’s a major problem, it’s more than a problem, it’s an everyday tragedy, not only for the population that lives on our side of the occupying line and not only for the population that lives on the other side of the occupying line, but for the 300.000 refugees that we have on the Georgian side of the occupying line and for the authorities, because it’s every day that we have to deal with somebody being taken hostage on the occupying line, that we don’t know when and how that person will be returned, moving that occupying line, which is very stressful, and all kinds of daily provocations that we have.
But despite that, that has not interfered with our intention toward the European Union, that has not changed our direction, and if that was the objective, as it probably was the objective of Russia, Russia has missed the point. We are maybe even more determined, because we know that we don’t have any other perspective or alternative and, after all, we also have very good examples in Europe that having an occupied territory does not deter from a European future. Look at Germany...
TV: What would you say to Mr. Putin?
Mrs. President: Well, what would Mr. Putin say to me? That’s the question. He has to make the first move and that’s the problem of the relations of all European partners with Russia. Russia is misbehaving as an international community member, is not respecting anything, it’s not only towards Georgia, it’s in general. So what type of dialogue do you have in these conditions? I can have a dialogue with Mr. Putin that would be just reminding him that he has violated all the commitments.
TV:  What about Saakashvili’s future?
Mrs. President: Please keep him somewhere else, whoever wants. I think it’s not an issue anymore in Georgian politics, his time has gone and he has not managed to reinvent himself.
TV: Absolutely no relations with Mr. Saakashvili whatsoever?
Mrs. President: No
TV: Doesn’t it make it a bit, let’s say awkward, when you are President right now and, let’s say in ten years’ time, the regime changes and they will try to put you on court and blame you about something?
Mrs. President: Certainly not, because I’ve not done any of the things that Saakashvili has done, so I have no single fear of anything of that kind. You have to know how to behave when you are in a position of power and if you go overboard, then you know also what the consequences are. Again, I don’t think it’s an actual problem for either Georgia or Mr. Saakashvili and I think that Ukraine is maybe waiting for him.
TV:  Your last President started an AirBnB as I understood. It was a big news. Will you be also, after the presidency, doing something like this, or what is your future, what do you think?
Mrs. President:  Maybe I’ll be writing something again, it’s a very interesting experience. I’ve never been in business so AirBnB is not my future. Maybe there should be a pension for retirement. On the other side, it’s very democratic that the former President is now receiving hosts in his house.
TV:  If you have that kind of high-level representative doing something like this and the message goes that you don’t have a pension system for the President. Why?
Mrs. President:  There is for the Parliament, there is not for the president. Why? I don’t know. That’s the way it was, because previously, until Saakashvili (included), Presidents were making so much money that they didn’t need pensions and I think that’s also changed. It shows the changes that the country has gone through, that the former President is actually giving lectures in the Public Affairs Institute. So probably there should be a pension, except I’m not going to propose it, because then everybody will say that she is proposing it for herself