Tbilisi Uneasily Watches Obama-Medvedev Summit

TBILISI (Eurasianet)–Amid fears of renewed fighting with Russia, Georgian officials are closely watching US President Barack Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medevedev’s July 6-8 summit in hopes that the US desire for rapprochment with Russia will not damage Georgian interests.

“We hope that the US will make it clear to the Russian leadership that the US stands by Georgia’s territorial integrity and sovereignty,” Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Nalbandov told a July 6 news conference.

Over the weekend, many Georgians were unsettled by predictions of another war from Andrei Illarionov, an economist and former policy adviser to Vladimir Putin during Putin’s presidency. In a lengthy interview with Moscow’s Ekho Moskvy radio station, Illarionov, now a Putin critic employed by the libertarian Cato Institute in Washington, DC, claimed that the prime minister’s political team is preparing for a campaign meant to complete Moscow’s allegedly unfinished job in Georgia — getting rid of pro-Western President Mikheil Saakashvili.

“In July this year, a much more intense sequel of the Russian-Georgian war is likely,” Illarionov said in a June 24 interview that was replayed repeatedly on Georgian television channels this weekend.

European monitors patrolling the border areas with South Ossetia and Abkhazia have not reported any sign of such a possibility, often flagged by the Georgian government and analysts sympathetic to Tbilisi.

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