The demand of the Russian Foreign Ministry to the Georgian authorities to allow Russian specialists to all buildings and to all documents in the Lugar laboratory provoked a stormy reaction among Georgian officials. The Russian side requires a full check of the Georgian laboratory.
In addition, Russia demands to organize a visit of Russian experts to the Lugar laboratory without representatives of other states and international organizations.
The position of Zurab Abashidze
According to the representative of the Georgian Prime Minister for the settlement of relations with Russia Zurab Abashidze, official Tbilisi is ready to invite Russian specialists, but with one condition – this visit should be international.
“This center, as you know, has a crucial role to play in the pandemic, and society is well aware of this. It is regrettable that the Russian side does not reckon with the opinion of the Georgian public and is trying to belittle the significance of this center. This, of course, serves the foreign policy goals of Moscow”.
Zurab Abashidze noted that Georgia is a party to the Convention on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons. According to this agreement, Tbilisi has no obligation to invite Russian specialists in a bilateral format. Moreover, the country is ready to accept them in a group of international experts.
The position of David Zalkalyani
Foreign Minister David Zalkaliani commented on the issue of admission of Russians to the Center of Lugar:
“May 26, when the whole civilized world congratulated Georgia on Independence Day, we heard slanderous and paradoxical statements from the Russian Federation. We have repeatedly stated and will not tire of publicly declaring that the Lugar Center played an invaluable role in this period. This is not just an integral part of the healthcare system, but also a guarantee of national security”.
According to Zalkaliani, participation in the Convention on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons provides the most effective mechanism for transparency in the work of the Lugar laboratory.
Amiran Gamkrelidze’s position
Head of the National Center for Disease Control of Georgia, turned to his Russian colleagues in connection with critical remarks addressed to the Research Center named after Richard Lugar. Gamkrelidze emphasized that they were “not superiors” to him.
“It has been a long time, 30 years since the Soviet Union ceased to exist. Russia and Moscow are no longer our leaders. Our Russian colleagues must somehow understand and accept this. What does it mean they will come and go into every nook and cranny? Russians will come here just like representatives of any other nation. We invite them to come as part of an international delegation”, – Gamkrelidze emphasized.
Position of Maya Tskitishvili
Minister of Regional Development and Infrastructure Maya Tskitishvili said that for many years provocations have been heard from the Russian side to the Lugar laboratory. According to her, if not for the Public Health Research Center. Richard Lugar, Georgia would not be able to withstand the coronavirus pandemic so successfully.
It is strange that the Georgian authorities and Georgian politicians react so many times to the position of the Russian Federation, and in official statements the requirement of the Foreign Ministry was dubbed as the dissemination of Russian narrative and propaganda that the Lugar laboratory poses a possible threat. Reliable facts about the Lugar Laboratory confirm that this object poses a real threat to the entire region.
Georgian edition of News FrontUS protesters burned down police station – photo and video from the scene