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Moscow expects Tbilisi’s steps to restore relations — Lavrov

July 22, 2016, 15:30 UTC+3

The Russian foreign minister says Georgia severed diplomatic ties with Russia when Mikheil Saakashvili was the president

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Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov

© Alexandr Sherbak/TASS

DVORIKI VILLAGE, July 22. /TASS/. The initiative to restore diplomatic relations between Russia and Georgia should come from Tbilisi as Moscow was not the one who severed ties, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on Friday.

"We don’t have embassies now but rather sections of interests," Lavrov told the National Educational Youth Forum "Territory of Meanings on the Klyazma."

"Georgia also does not have an embassy in Moscow but rather a section of interests under the Swiss Embassy," he added.

"This is due to the fact the Georgian leadership severed diplomatic ties with Russia under Mikheil Nikolaevich Saakashvili," the foreign minister said. "This situation can only be improved by one way - restoring diplomatic relations. Since we were not the ones who severed them, the ball is in the court of our Georgia neighbors," he said.

"I am confident that we will resolve all problems. Even now there is more common sense in our relations," Lavrov said. He reminded that Georgian prime minister’s special representative for relations with Russia Zurab Abashidze and Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Grigory Karasin regularly meet and discuss opportunities to normalize relations between Tsbilisi and Moscow.

Meetings between Abashidze and Karasin are the first direct dialogue between officials of Russia and Georgia since 2008. Discussions in this format are held every four months starting from December 2012. The first meeting between the official representatives since hostilities over the bordering South Ossetia region flared in 2008 opened near Geneva on December 14, 2012. The next seven meetings were held in Prague in 2013 and 2014 to discuss economic, humanitarian and cultural cooperation of the two countries.

Relations between the two countries soured when on August 8, 2008, Georgian forces attacked the breakaway region of South Ossetia. Russia sent its forces into the region to protect the citizens of South Ossetia, many of whom held Russian passports, and expelled the Georgian forces. Russia then recognized the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, after which Georgia broke off diplomatic relations with it.

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