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TBILISI, November 16, 20:02 /ITAR-TASS/. Official delegations from 53 countries will attend the inauguration of Georgia’s new President Georgy Margvelashvili on November 17.
“Some of the foreign delegations have already arrived in Tbilisi and others will arrive tonight and tomorrow morning,” Foreign Minister Maia Panjikidze said on Saturday, November 16.
She said the dignitaries included Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite. “Ms Grybauskaite’s visit is very important and significant because she represents not only friendly Lithuania but also the European Union because Lithuania holds the presidency in the EU now,” the minister said.
Invitations to the inaugural ceremony were also sent to EU and NATO countries, five Eastern Partnership countries (Azerbaijan, Armenia, Belarus, Moldova, and Ukraine), and international organisations such as the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), the United Nations, the European Council and NATO.
Panjikidze said invitations had also been sent to countries that “are not members of these organisations but have embassies in Tbilisi.”
Foreign delegations will be led by presidents, prime ministers, deputy prime ministers, parliament speakers or ministers.
Panjikidze said that “Georgia has no diplomatic relations with Russia and therefore no invitation to the Georgian president’s inauguration was sent to Moscow.”
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Grigory Karasin confirmed earlier this week that “in the absence of diplomatic relations it is impossible to picture Russian officials attending the inauguration [of the Georgian president]. But I can say that we are watching the new Georgian president’s statements with interest. His thoughts about the normalisation of Georgian-Russian relations appear to be constructive and are largely consonant with our own vision.”
“Moscow is ready to continue the informal dialogue that was started a year ago with the Georgian prime minister’s special representative for relations with Russia Zurab Abashidze, following instructions from our leaders,” Karasin said.
Margvelashvili said he would continue efforts to normalise relations with Russia if elected.
“The new government of Georgia has taken a number of steps in the past several months to normalise relations with Russia. This policy will be continued,” Margvelashvili said.
Georgian Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili said Georgia should normalise relations with Russia without mediators. “Both Europe and the United States supported and continue to support Georgia as best they can, they criticised Russia’s position and policy with regard to Georgia, but everyone should be a realist and understand that none of us will go for compete confrontation with Russia,” he said.
“Georgia is grateful to Europe and the U.S. for their support, but no one can normalise our relations with Russia for us. I think we should do it ourselves as no one will want to spoil relations with Russia because of us,” the prime minister said.
Ivanishvili said he did not expect quick progress or any miracle in the process of normalising relations with Russia.
“The issue of normalising relations with Russia is the most important and at the same time most difficult one for Georgia now,” the prime minister said.
“The first concrete steps in this direction have already been taken - Georgian products are returning to Russia. The next step will probably be a resumption of regular flights between the two countries and facilitated border crossing procedures on the Russian side,” Ivanishvili said.
At the same time, he admitted that hid does not expect “a miracle and quick progress in the process of normalising relations with Russia" and he has "no illusions that Georgia's territorial integrity will be restored tomorrow and that this issue can be solved by Russia only.”
He believes all the same that the first stage of restoring relations between Georgia and Russia passed “very quickly and successfully.”
“There are prospects for further normalisation of relations, but it will take time and proper conditions,” he said.