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Kremlin assesses the first meeting of Georgian and Russian FMs since 2008

By Tsotne Pataraia
Thursday, October 3
In conversation with news agency “TASS” Vladimir Putin's spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, commented on the meeting between Georgian and Russian Foreign Ministers on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly on September 26.

According to the representative of the Kremlin, meetings similar to talks between Russian and Georgian Foreign Ministers Sergey Lavrov and David Zalkaliani in New York are good aid to new beginnings of positive interactions between the two countries: “Probably, any process of constructive dialogue, even the beginnings of such a process, begins precisely with such meetings,” he said.

Meanwhile, Peskov expressed his astonishment about how this event was perceived in Tbilisi, as he assessed " not quite an adequate reaction…very painfully received for unknown reasons".

Answering the question of whether Russia received any signals from official Georgia about its readiness to establish a dialogue, Peskov focused on recent public demonstrations in Tbilisi against Russian occupation:

“Unfortunately, we saw the signals of the crowd, we saw the signals of the authorities who condoned this crowd when our deputies could hardly leave Tbilisi. We saw these signals and we didn’t like them. Let's hope that we will continue to live without such signals," Peskov said.

The spokesman also emphasized Russian and Putin’s generally friendly attitude towards Georgia: "In the Kremlin, as well as in Russia in general, we would like to see good relations with Georgia”. Peskov noted that Vladimir Putin highly respects the historically friendly relations between Georgia and Russia:

“President Putin always appreciates the historically friendly, almost kindred relations between Russians and Georgians, but as for the official authorities, here, unfortunately, there are still problems," he stated.

On September 26, Georgian and Russian Foreign Ministers held the first meeting since the two countries cut diplomatic ties following the Russo-Georgia war in 2008. It was facilitated by Switzerland and was held on the sidelines of the 74th session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York.

The meeting, which has been welcomed by the Georgian officials and the international community, including the United States, the European Union, the United Nations, and the OSCE, has been criticized by the Georgian opposition because of unclearness of the subject of negotiations.

Although Switzerland immediately announced that as part of its Good Offices it “has initiated and facilitated” the meeting, the following day Minister Lavrov stated that it was his Georgian counterpart Davit Zalkaliani, “who himself demanded the meeting.” The Georgian Foreign Ministry was denying Lavrov’s words until the Vice-Speaker of the Parliament of Georgia, Gia Volski told journalists today that “Georgia requested the meeting”.

The main reason for the disagreement between Georgia and Russia is the Russian occupation of the Georgian territories of Abkhazia and Tskhinvali Region. After the Russian-Georgian war in 2008, ignoring basic principles of international law, the Russian Federation recognized these breakaway regions as independent states, leaving Georgia with only the option to break up diplomatic relations with the occupier. Russia's position is opposed by the overwhelming majority of international community members and they support Georgia's territorial integrity.