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Russian evaluation of ‘Georgian Dream’

October 06, 2012, 12:08 UTC+3

Even if Mikheil Saakashvili leaves the politics for good, any “warming” in relations would be limited to economic sphere

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MOSCOW, October 6 (Itar-Tass) —— The results of Georgia’s parliamentary elections of October 1 are being finalised, and nothing seems to change them dramatically now. The Georgian Dream has a convincing victory. Its leader Badzina Ivanishvili announces the new government would be named on October 8 already.

Thus, Russia’s major question about evaluation of the Georgian Dream may be analysed. Georgia’s potential prime minister expressed hope “we shall be able to revive quite quickly trade and cultural ties with the Russian Federation.” He said “if we start attempts to restore the trade and cultural relations with the Russian Federation without any preconditions, I hope we shall achieve the result.” Ivanishvili does not rule out the process may be quick: “If everything moves well, Georgia may export to Russia the crops of its citrus plants this year already.”

Speaking abut relations with Moscow in other spheres, the coalition leader stressed “it will be a complicated process.” “But we shall be doing everything to move step by step to restoration of friendly relations with the Russian Federation on the basis of state interests of the two countries, though it would require much effort and work,” he said. First of all, we should persuade the Russian leaders that Georgia’s trend for integration in the Euro-Atlantic structures is not against Russia’s state interests, he said in an interview with the CNN. After that, he said, Georgia should start complex negotiations with Russia on all major problems, and did not rule out Georgia and Russia may share interests in many aspects, including in security.

It is noteworthy that the Georgian Dream’s leader refrains as yet from touching upon the “sensitive issue” in the Russia-Georgia relations of Moscow’s recognition of Abkhazia’s and South Ossetia’s independence, while Tbilisi still considers those territories to be parts of Georgia’s sovereign territory. He stressed only before the victory of the elections that he is ready for normalisation of relations both with the Abkhaz and with the Ossetians, and “we have resources for that.” However, it is impossible to be speaking about refusal from claims about the two republics, and thus the issue, how relations with those two neighbours /indirectly, this would be of importance for Russia, too/ will be established, is still pending.

Moscow’s reaction to the elections in Georgia and first public speeches of the new national leader de facto? It is restrained and pragmatic. Russia’s top leaders have not in fact commented on the events in Georgia. Russia’s presidential press secretary Dmitry Peskov told reporters “as far as we may realise, the preferences of the country’s majority are not for the present power.” However, he said “we shall be waiting for official results.” Russia’s Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said briefly on the day following the elections that “information on results of the elections demonstrates the people of that country are looking for changes.” “If those results become a reality – Georgia’s political landscape will be more versatile. This is only positive, as, most likely, this means more constructive and responsible forces will appear in the parliament,” Medvedev said. “United Russia, being the leading political force in Russia, is ready for a dialogue on future of the Russia-Georgia relations.”

The essence of Moscow’s principal position /not only referring to Tbilisi/ was expressed clearly by the Foreign Ministry’s spokesman Alexander Lukashevich. “I hope for constructive changes to let us normalise the relations,” he said. “We will be judging not by statements, but by deeds.” At the same time, he warned Georgia’s new ruling power that Russia was not going to hold any negotiations on the law on “occupied territories”, which Georgia adopted following the war of August, 2008. Lukashevich told a briefing in Moscow that Russia is not using the “occupied territories” term – “there is a notion of new independent states, which emerged after the aggression of Saakashvili’s regime: the Republic of South Ossetia and the Republic of Abkhazia.”

The Russian parliament is also concerned about future relations with Georgia. “Georgia’s parliament will be managed by people, who oppose the present regime of Mikheil Saakashvili, and there is hope of a positive element in relations between Russia and Georgia,” Chairman of the State Duma’s Committee on the CIS and compatriots Leonid Slutsky said. Chairman of the State Duma’s Committee on International Affairs Alexei Pushkov is not expecting any major changes in political contacts between Moscow and Tbilisi. “Under conditions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, it would be extremely difficult,” he said adding “Russia would have welcomed a possible improvement – we should have realistic objectives.” And head of the Federation Council’s International Affairs Mikhail Margelov doubts a breakthrough in bilateral relations may be possible with Georgia’s any future prime minister. He stressed it impossible “to imagine what should happen so that Russia refused from recognising independence of South Ossetia and Abkhazia.” Thus, the senator shares the view supported by several experts that “even if Mikheil Saakashvili leaves the politics for good, any “warming” in relations would be limited to economic sphere.”

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