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SOCHI, February 10. /ITAR-TASS/. Russian President Vladimir Putin expressed hope on Monday that the Sochi Olympic Games would help to improve relations between Russia and Georgia.
The president said he was glad that the Georgian national team was taking part in the Winter Olympic Games that Russia hosts, saying “all this will create preconditions for normalization of ties with our closest neighbour - Georgia, with which Russia has for centuries enjoyed very close relations”.
“We would very much want to see the tragedies of the previous years become a thing of the past as soon as possible. We understand that it is not an easy process, but Russia is committed to a positive development of relations with Georgia,” the president added.
Prior to that, Putin said he did not rule out the possibility of his meeting with Georgian President Georgi Margelashvili.
“If he expresses a wish, why not,” the president said in reply to a query by a Georgian reporter at the Sochi Media Centre, where he had arrived to meet with representatives of the Public Council overseeing preparations and the holding of the Sochi Olympic Games.
Putin also said Russia was very glad to have the Georgian national team at the Winter Olympics. “Moreover, I believe it is a good sign, and it is exactly the case when Olympic Games contribute to relationship building even there where it could seem impossible or very difficult,” Putin said.
He also reminded the audience that flights between the Olympic Sochi and Georgian capital Tbilisi had been reopened on a regular basis. “And we have made the decision that this practice will stay in place after the Olympic Games,” the Russian president said, adding that it was already a benefit of the Olympics.
“The Olympic Games help to build relations with Georgia, and I am very glad to see that. We wish success to the Georgian athletes. They always perform well at summer Olympic Games, especially in combat sports,” the Russian leader added, reminding the audience that as for judo, his favorite discipline, “the Georgian team is one of the world leaders”.
“We expect that Georgian athletes will perform well here as well, and we wish them success,” he added.