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Politicians and activists react on Russian FM's possible visit

By Nika Gamtsemlidze
Thursday, January 9
Several media outlets have been reporting that Sergey Lavrov, Russian FM plans to visit Georgia. Representatives of the opposition and some public movements say they are against his visit. As the sources say, the visit will be held in the framework of the Council of Europe’s Ministerial.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Georgia neither confirms nor denies the information.

“Georgia, as the chair of the Council of Europe’s (CoE) Committee of Ministers will host a meeting of the Committee of Ministers of the CoE in May. We are working coordinately with the Secretariat of the Council of Europe, following the regulations and procedures of CoE,” reads the statement of the Foreign Ministry.

According to the Speaker of the Parliament of Georgia, Archil Talakvadze, if Lavrov decides to come to Georgia, the Georgian government will remain its strict position, saying that Georgia’s territories are occupied by the Russian Federation.

“Georgia has taken over the Presidency of the Council of Europe and we have taken the responsibility to hold the events traditionally held during other Presidencies, including the Ministerial,” noted Talakvadze.

As Ketevan Tsikhelashvili, the State Minister for Reconciliation and Civic Equality says, Georgia, as the chairman of the CoE, will act under the charter.

“Just 20 years after our accession, this is a very high responsibility, and it is also a chance for the country to show its best aspects,” noted Tsikhelashvili.

Political expert, Tornike Sharashenidze says that it is unimaginable that the visit of such a high-ranking official can be held without a protest in society and opposition.

As he says, the only way to avoid Lavrov’s visit is to cancel the planned meeting of the Committee of Ministers of the CoE. According to him, any other way will further damage the Russian-Georgian relations.

Lelo for Georgia also published a statement, saying that “in light of all this, and especially after the sanctions imposed by Russia after ‘Gavrilov's night’, we consider Lavrov's visit to be an extremely cynical move that would offend Georgia's sovereignty.”

Their statement says that the Russian Federation occupies 20% of Georgia's sovereign territory and continues to occupy territories, kill, persecute and kidnap Georgian citizens.

Georgia, in the framework of the Presidency, should host the Council of Europe's Ministerial in May and the delegations of the member states of the Organization. Georgia will host the 130th meeting of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe on May 14-15, 2020. According to reports, the Russian delegation is represented by Sergey Lavrov, who in his turn has repeatedly violated the Law on Georgia's Occupied Territories.