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Georgia not ready to restore diplomatic ties with Russia think Russian officials

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Monday, November 7
Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Grigory Karasin, who is tasked with holding negotiations with Georgia on trade-economic issues, says Georgia is not ready to restore diplomatic ties with Russia that were cut after the Russia-Georgia war in 2008.

Karasin told Russia’s Ria Novosti the Government of Georgia "periodically addressed aggressive rhetoric to Russia that didn’t serve to strengthen positive relations between the two nations initiated by the current Georgian leadership”.

“Russia-Georgia relations, which were damaged by ex-president Mikheil Saakashvili, have become healthier under the current Georgian leadership. We have improved economic and transport ties and are taking steps for better cultural and humanitarian relations, but Georgia is still not ready to restore diplomatic ties with us,” Karasin said.

Karasin stressed he frequently mentioned the negative sides of Georgia’s “aggressive rhetoric” towards Russia with Georgia’s Special Envoy to Russia Zurab Abashidze.

The Russian official also said the lack of diplomatic ties would complicate the removal of the visa-regime with Georgia, even if Russia wished to do this.

Abashidze said diplomatic relations between Georgia and Russia could only be restored if the Federation changed its attitude to Georgia’s occupied regions of Abkhazia and Tskhinvali (South Ossetia).

With regards to visas, Abashidze said at the beginning of the year that had Russia simplified issuing visas for Georgian citizens, and the number of issued visas "has significantly increased”.

Abashidze added it was completely up to Russia to make decisions over its visa-regime for Georgians, which was introduced by Russia in 2000. As a gesture of good faith, Georgia annulled visas for Russians in 2011.

"We can’t force Russia to simplify or remove visa travel; it’s completely up to them to decide,” Abashidze said.

The Administration of the President of Georgia said the country was interested in normalising relations with Russia, but never “at the expense of the Georgia’s territorial integrity”.

“Russia occupies 20% of our territory and continues its creeping occupation of our land. The most recent Russia-Abkhazia deal on the creation of a joint military task force is one of the signals for this,” President’s representative Tengiz Pkhaladze said.

Members of the Georgian Dream majority team also say that the restoration of diplomatic ties with Russia is dependent on Russia’s policies towards Georgia’s territorial issues.

Meanwhile, representatives of the United National Movement opposition say that the current authorities’ attitude to Russia is “too soft and mild”, which enables the country to “achieve its aggressive goals to Georgia”.

The opposition urges the current state leadership to be more active in openly evaluating Russia’s actions to Georgia on the international arena.