MOSCOW, March 5 (Itar-Tass) — Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili announced that diplomatic relations with Russia can be restored, only when Russia recognizes Georgia’s territorial integrity, withdraws its troops from Abkhazia and South Ossetia and stops recognizing them as independent states. Georgia says that until this time the Russian-Georgian negotiations on visa abolition have no sense.
Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili rejected Russia’s proposal to restore diplomatic relations between the two countries making this step conditional on “the withdrawal of occupation troops from Georgia’s territories – Abkhazia and South Ossetia,” Kommersant reported. Tbilisi announced that if Moscow interlinks the visa abolition with restoration of diplomatic relations the visa talks lose any sense. Earlier Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich offered to restore diplomatic relations with Georgia and cancel visas for Georgian citizens.
Most Georgian politicians, including those oppositional ones, interviewed by Kommersant underlined that diplomatic relations with Moscow cannot be restored until Russia recognizes Abkhazia and South Ossetia as independent. “This is one of a few issues where we agree with Saakashvili,” the founder of the Republican Party, David Berdzenishvili, said. Taking into consideration all existing discrepancies Tbilisi considers senseless the visa talks between Russia and Georgia, although the Georgian president’s decision to unilaterally cancel visas for Russians remains in force.
Georgian opposition leaders believe that making a proposal to restore relations “Russia offers Georgia to get used to the so-called new reality,” but at the same time it positively assesses the abolition of visas. “At present, any constructive talks with Russia’s authorities are impossible for Georgia. Russia’s statement once again exposes an erroneous position of those Georgian politicians who are ready to switch from pro-American to pro-Russian track and draw nearer to Russia through drifting away from the United States and NATO,” political scientist and rector of the Georgian Diplomatic Academy, Soso Tsintsadze, said.