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Incorporation of Abkhazia, S.Ossetia into Russia out of question — Russian diplomat

January 23, 2015, 12:17 UTC+3
The Russian State Duma has ratified a treaty of alliance and strategic partnership with Abkhazia
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Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Grigory Karasin

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Grigory Karasin

© ITAR-TASS/Anton Novoderezhkin

MOSCOW, January 23. /TASS/. Abkhazia, S.Ossetia’s merger with Russia in out of the question, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Grigory Karasin said Friday.

“We are not even talking about it,” Karasin said addressing the lower house of the Russian parliament, the State Duma, during the ratification of the strategic partnership agreement between Russia and Abkhazia.

Lawmakers from the State Duma ratified on Friday a treaty on allied relations and strategic partnership between Russia and Abkhazia.

Karasin said Georgian elite needs to get used to new realities and accept the sovereignty of its former republics of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

“These are the realities one cannot fail to take into account,” Karasin said when asked about Tbilisi’s possible reaction to the ratification of the agreement.

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Abkhazian President Raul Khadzhimba signed the treaty in Russia’s Black Sea resort of Sochi on November 24, 2014. The agreement envisages the creation of a joint “defense and security space,” including the establishment of a unified group of troops of the Russian and Abkhazian Armed Forces.

According to the high-ranking Russian diplomat a relatively calm atmosphere recently settled in the areas of Georgian borders on Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

“Representatives of law enforcement bodies and border guards are interacting,” Karasin said. “The atmosphere became healthier after [ex-Georgian President Mikheil] Saakashvili’s departure.”

“An atmosphere of wiser approach to relations with Russia is settling in,” Karasin added.

Tensions between Russia and Georgia

Diplomatic ties between Moscow and Tbilisi were severed after Russia recognized independence of two Georgian breakaway republics South Ossetia and Abkhazia. The recognition followed Georgia's attack on South Ossetia, engaging Russian peace-making operations in August 2008. Georgia maintains that recognition infringed its territorial integrity.

Following election of Georgia's new parliament in 2012, tension between Moscow and Tbilisi began to thaw when then-Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili called normalization of relations with Russia one of the country's top priorities.

Over a year ago Russian President Vladimir Putin stated that Russia could possibly return to visa-free regime with Georgia.

Border crossings between Russia and Georgia intensified after Moscow lifted bans in 2013 from Georgian imports of wine, mineral water, brandy and other goods. In 2013 Georgia also unilaterally cancelled the visa regimen with Russia, prompting Russian tourists to travel to inexpensive Georgian mountain ski resorts and make tourist trips to Tbilisi.

Regular air traffic on the Moscow-Tbilisi-Moscow route was back to normal last September for first time since its suspension in August of 2008.

Last October, Zurab Abashidze, the Georgian prime minister’s special envoy for relations with Russia, said Tbilisi supported the idea of organizing a summit meeting between Georgian President Giorgi Margvelashvili and his Russian counterpart Putin.

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