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Georgia-Russia: new steps from Tbilisi

By Messenger Staff
Monday, November 5
Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili took the first step in the direction of normalizing relations with Russia. This is one of the priorities for Georgian foreign policy relations. On November 1, Zurab Abashidze, Georgia’s former ambassador to Russia during Shevardnadze’s presidency was appointed as the special envoy for regulating Georgian-Russian relations. In his pre-election promises, Bidzina Ivanishvili designated as his priority the regulation of relations with Russia.

However, Georgia does not plan to restore diplomatic relations with Moscow until there are two Russian embassies represented in the breakaway territories in Tskhinvali and Sokhumi. That said, Ivanishvili intends to restore cultural and economic links and first of all to return Georgian products onto Russian market. While introducing Abashidze to the media, Ivanishvili reiterated that Saakashvili, with his arrogant behavior, considerably damaged Georgian-Russian relations. The PM highlighted that Saakashvili as the president creates an obstacle in the push to regulate Georgian-Russian relations. Zurab Abashidze in his welcoming speech highlighted the importance for the country to create a new possibility in the restoration of communications and dialogue with Russia. Abashidze stressed upon the fact that the issue is very sensitive and there are only a limited amount of possibilities that remain.

Moscow for its part, has confirmed several times that it did not intend to revoke its decision to recognize the independence of Abkhazia and S. Ossetia. Georgia also has red lines of its own, but there are some things that both countries can still find common interests about– mostly economic, cultural and humanitarian issues, as these are less divisive. Abashidze highlighted that the country should take steps that will eventually bring Georgia to its main goal. The parliamentary minority, which represents the former leadership of the country, is looking at Abashidze’s appointment with much doubt and believes that Abashidze’s goals are destined for failure. They think that will only be possible to achieve these goals if Georgia makes very considerable concessions. However, the Georgian foreign minister highlighted that Tbilisi is not going to make any political concessions.

Russian analysts for the most part have positively evaluated Abashidze’s appointment. Moscow made a short statement highlighting that they know Abashidze as a diplomat and ambassador to Russia. However, no adequate plans have been outlined from the Russian side so far.