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Experts see no chance of an improvement in Georgian-Russian relations as yet

By Temuri Kiguradze
Wednesday, September 10
The restoration of Georgian-Russian relations is impossible in the near future. This point of view was expressed by both Georgian and Russian participants in a Tbilisi-Moscow Tele-conference which took place at the news agency RIA-Novosti office on September 9.

Political analysts and journalists from both countries discussed different aspects of the relations between them.

“The recognition of Abkhazia and South Ossetia has led the prospects for Georgian-Russian dialogue into dead end,” stated Giorgi Khutsishvili, the Director of the International Centre for Conflict Resolutions and Strategic Negotiations. Russian experts however proposed that Georgia accept the new reality created in the region by the August events. “It’s time for Georgia to forget about the phantom pain,” said Russian analyst Sergey Markedonov.

“It will make no difference who leads Georgia, Saakashvili or anyone else, they will never agree to just forget about Abkhazia and South Ossetia,” said Kakha Kukava, leader of the opposition Conservative Party of Georgia. He maintained that the way the countries could restore negotiations would be for Russia to announce a moratorium on its August 26 decision to recognize the breakaway regions. “There is no chance of Russia reconsidering its decision on Abkhazia and South Ossetia and that’s why the restoration of relations between the political elites in the near future is impossible,” said Russian expert Aleksei Vlasov, who also doubted that economic connections would resolve the issue. “The only possibility is the restoration of relations between ordinary people; maybe this will somehow help to improve the situation,” stated Vlasov.

Commenting on the possible integration of Georgia into NATO, Russian experts said that this would not improve Georgia’s situation and could even worsen it. “There is no chance that NATO will start a war against Russia or that Russia will start a war against NATO,” said Russian expert Leonid Radzikhovsky, who pointed out that the current status quo will remain even if Georgia joins NATO and its military bases are placed on Georgian territory.

Markedonov, answering the question of a Georgian journalist, completely excluded the development of ethnic confrontation within the Russian Federation itself.