Georgia's president Mikhail Saakashvili is running great risks building up tensions in the Transcaucasus. Vyacheslav Nikonov, a well-known Russian politician, president of the Politika Foundation, expressed this opinion in an interview to RIA Novosti when commenting on Saakashvili's recent statement concerning Georgia's readiness to sink all civilian vessels heading for Sukhumi (a port and the capital of Abkhazia, a self-proclaimed republic on Georgia's territory) without Georgia's permission.
" Saakashvili's political situation pushes him forward. The style of his revolutionary leadership is to win victories," the political scientist said. In his opinion, Saakashvili intentionally provokes tension because it is impossible to keep up hysteria inside the country in a peaceful situation.
"This is especially necessary now when he has entered into conflict with powerful financial interests in Georgia," Nikonov stressed. "Saakashvili is running great risks," he added.
"Russia must calmly state its position that it will, no doubt, protect Russian citizens and their property and that peacekeepers will stay in the zones of conflict (there are two such zones in Georgia now - in Abkhazia and South Ossetia; in both zones, peacekeeping forces control the situation).
"We must draw a clear-cut 'red line' and make Saakashvili understand that he cannot transgress it," the expert emphasized.
Nikonov pointed out that the West was interested in the functioning of the Baku-Ceyhan oil pipeline running across Georgia and, therefore, was not interested in tensions in the region. "At the same time, the West supports Saakashvili as an absolutely pro-Western politician who declared plans of Georgia's entry into NATO," Nikonov pointed out. In his opinion, "at present, the West and, primarily, the United States, hold him back."
Tamara Lebanidze, Georgia's minister of nature conservation and natural resources, informed the Novosti-Georgia agency that her ministry granted permission to the BP company acting as the operator in building the Baku-Ceyhan-Tbilisi oil pipeline to resume work in the Borjomi gorge.
At the same time, the BP office in Georgia told Novosti-Georgia that construction work in the Borjomi gorge had not been started yet. The company's representatives continue their consultations on the issues arising.
Previously, it was reported that on July 19 the Georgian ministry of nature conservation and natural resources suspended the building of the Baku-Ceyhan-Tbilisi oil pipeline and demanded additional guarantees from the project's operator for ensuring work safety on the 17 km-long section running through the Borjomi gorge.
The building of the Baku-Ceyhan-Tbilisi oil pipeline, 1,767 km long, was started in Georgia in April 2004. The pipeline's Georgian section (248 km long) and Azerbaijani section (443 km long) must be put into operation by the end of this year, and its Turkish section (1,076 km long) - by the middle of the first quarter of next year.