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Putin is going to restore relations with Georgia

By Ana Robakidze
Thursday, June 13
The President of Russia, Vladimir Putin is going to restore relations with Georgia, but he will never consider reviewing his decision on the recognition of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Putin says the decision on independence should be taken by the people living in the territories.

The Russian president discussed relations with Georgia in an interview with one of the Russian TV channels.

Putin accused President Mikheil Saakashvili of making several mistakes, leading both countries to a war in August, 2008.

“Georgia’s acting president made a great mistake. I was telling him - Mikheil Nikolaevich, avoid bloodshed at all costs. He used to answer - yes, we shall work with Abkhazia and South Ossetia, but everything ended in war,” Putin said referring to the war in 2008.

He said many foreign journalists accuse Russia of starting the war, “but I think that if people think objectively, they will realize that Russia had nothing to do with it. Ethnic conflict was underway for over a hundred years and this process led us to the recognition of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. The issue should be a priority and it must be decided by the people living in these territories,” Putin said. Referring to the visa situation and Georgia, he said the visa problem would be resolved if both countries agree to work jointly against terrorism and crime, bearing in mind that terrorists often enter Russia from Georgia. He also commented on the new Government of Georgia and said he already saw some positive moves by the Georgian authorities and hopes to continue the process of settling relations between the two countries.

Putin spoke about how trade relations with Georgia were progressing and said he understands how important the Russian market is for the Georgian economy. According to the Russian president, he welcomes the decision of the Georgian authorities to take part in the Sochi Winter Olympics in 2014 and he would love to co-operate with Georgia in providing security for the Games.

In the interview, Putin expressed his positive attitude towards the Catholicos Patriarch of Georgia, Ilia II and said that the Patriarch is very generous and is a “true Georgian”.

The Georgian Government already commented on Putin’s statements. Zurab Abashidze, the Prime Minister’s Special Representative in Relations with Russia says it is obvious that Putin realizes Georgia will never give up on trying to restore its territorial integrity. Abashidze said, Georgia does not share Russian “interpretations” of recent Georgian history and will continue to fight to restore the territorial integrity by peaceful means. Georgian diplomats say Putin has some interesting opinions about the renewed negotiations with Georgia, which prompts him to expect positive developments in the process.

Commenting on Putin’s interview, Minister for Foreign Affairs, Maia Panjikidze once again confirmed that Georgia will take part in the Sochi Olympic Games. The Minster confirmed she sees the benefits of co-operating with the Russian side on providing security for the Games.

However, Giga Bokeria, Chairman of the National Security Council gave his own interpretation of Putin’s statements and says “Russians are like Georgians but without their statehood.” Bokeria says Russians could never get used to Georgian’s desire to gain freedom and sovereignty.

Russian experts also started to talk about the possible positive developments of the negotiations between the two countries. The Russian political scientist and military expert, Pavel Felgenhauer told a reporter from the newspaper, Kvela Siakhle that Moscow may encourage negotiations if Prime Minister, Bidzina Ivanishvili takes control of the processes in Georgia. He also said Russian-Georgian relations are “stable” and “cold” at the moment.