"Cruciform concept" of Shevardnadze's foreign policy

Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze thinks it necessary to develop "equidistant" relations with the USA and the West on the one hand and Russia on the other.

"There has been a lot of talk lately that Georgia is changing its political orientation," he said in a traditional interview with the national radio. "I clearly stated in my program speech to the parliament that we must develop equidistant relations with the West and the USA on the one hand and with our big neighbor, the Russian Federation, on the other. This is our cruciform concept." He went on to say that the concept in question was being realized differently in different spheres. For instance, the Great Silk Way project involving the East and the West was being developed alongside the northern and southern directions.

"I mean cooperation with Russia's Gazprom and Unified Energy Systems as well as the Moscow-Tbilisi-Yerevan transport axis," he explained.

He observed that new projects would be added to the old ones, meaning the return of Georgian refugees to the Gali district of the breakaway republic of Abkhazia and restoration of a railway leading from Sochi, Russia to Tbilisi via Abkhazia.

"My objective in the beginning of the new century is to make Georgia and Caucasus not a place of confrontation but an arena of constructive cooperation," stated the Georgian president.

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