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Good will breaks out in Georgian-Russian relations

By Messenger Staff
Tuesday, July 5
Against the background of strained and unfriendly relations between Russia and Georgia, all of a sudden an unexpected outbreak of civility might just have emerged. It is difficult to predict exactly how this will influence their future relations. It is also difficult to rule out the possibility of this being a PR stunt aimed at attracting international attention. Or, is there a genuine willingness to establish better relations between the countries?

On July 2 the Georgian government decided to establish an easy form of border crossing with Russia at the Larsi border customs checkpoint. Russian citizens from the North Caucasus have already been enjoying certain benefits in crossing Georgia’s border, in particular being able to enter Georgia without a visa and from July 2 the citizens from anywhere in Russia will be permitted to get a Georgian visa at the border.

Here we should remember that when on October 11, 2010 Georgia established visa free regime for the North Caucasus citizens of the Russian Federation, Russian officials became very irritated and labeled Georgia’s step as an unfriendly one. Now Georgia’s supposed ‘unfriendliness’ has hit new heights.

This step of the Georgian authorities coincided with two significant developments. The first was the dissemination of information by Russian news agencies that around 70 terrorists entered Russian territory from the Georgian Pankisi Gorge, where they had allegedly been receiving special training. Of course, the Georgian Ministry of the Interior immediately denied this misinformation and, on July 2, Russia’s special services and border protection department also denied that any terrorists had entered Russia from Georgia. This was an interesting turn of events. The next step was taken by Russia as well. Chief sanitary doctor of Russian Federation Genady Onishenko, who in 2006 imposed a ban on Georgian wine and mineral water, stated that if Georgia manages to guarantee the appropriate quality of Georgian wine it would be allowed to enter the Russian market. He also outlined the strict regulations which would need to be satisfied for Georgian wine to be allowed to return to the Russian market.

Of course it is unlikely that these “warm” statements and steps from the confronting sides will solve the problems existing between the countries, because only recently the Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov dismissed the idea of negotiations with President Saakashvili of Georgia.

However, even if the cause for optimism may be small, we still wish to see these as positive steps. It is impossible to achieve any kind of progress through confrontation with Russia. This could be achieved only through peaceful negotiations, mutual concessions and overall good will.