Armenian newspapers continue to discuss possible motives behind Ajar leader Aslan Abashidze’s surprise visit to Yerevan.
“Azg” quotes a senior member of Abashidze’s Democratic Revival Union, Jemal Gogitidze, as denying Georgian opposition claims that President Eduard Shevardnadze is intent on making the Ajar strongman his successor. “Abashidze does not aspire to the post of parliament speaker,” Gogitidze says. “His objective is to stabilize the political situation in Georgia.” But a senior oppositionist, Giorgi Baramidze, expresses concern at Abashidze’s trips to Yerevan and Baku and especially the fact that he was received there at the highest level.
“We are confident that Armenia and Azerbaijan are assessing Georgia’s internal political situation in a realistic manner and will not meddle in Georgia’s internal affairs,” Baramidze says. “Besides, Abashidze does not hold a post that allows him to enjoy the highest-level reception in friendly and neighboring Armenia and Azerbaijan.”
“The Abashidze-Shevardnadze duo is trying to find the keys to overcoming Georgia’s domestic turmoil in Armenia and Azerbaijan,” writes “Haykakan Zhamanak.” “According to one of the theories, Abashidze hopes that the neighboring countries will send him special [army] battalions that will take on the role of dispersing Georgian opposition demonstrations and protecting the Georgian president’s residence and parliament building. If Abashidze secures Armenia’s and Azerbaijan’s endorsement as a future president of Georgia, he could get an excellent chance of winning a pre-term Georgian presidential election.” But all of this, the paper adds, is a mere speculation. It says the crisis in Georgia is unlikely to be resolved under the scenario written by Shevardnadze and Abashidze.
Still, “Haykakan Zhamanak” does not rule out of the possibility of Armenia sending troops to the neighboring state “under a transport excuse.” It suggests that the Armenian leadership might claim that the Georgian authorities have asked for their help in ensuring unfettered transit of cargos to and from Armenia. “Then, after one or two provocations, Armenian troops would have a free hand in operating in Georgia. Of course, jointly with the Georgian authorities. We hope, however, that Armenia’s current authorities will not resort to such steps. Georgia’s citizens themselves should decide the fate of their country.”
That Abashidze asked Robert Kocharian to send Armenian forces to Georgia is also claimed by a member of the Nagorno-Karabakh parliament, Tigran Kyureghian. “This is not the first time that Georgia’s leaders realize that only Armenia can really help them,” he tells “Ayb-Fe.” “Armenia must certainly satisfy Georgia’s request. We must help our neighbors by engaging troops, if necessary.”
According to “Hayots Ashkhar,” by sending Abashidze to the Armenian and Azerbaijani capitals Shevardnadze wanted to show the international community that Georgia’s neighbors trust his regime more than his opposition. The paper believes that Abashidze did not seek an Armenian or Azeri troop deployment. It also defends Yerevan’s “moderate support” of Shevardnadze.