PRAGUE, November 21. /ITAR-TASS/. Russia and Georgia wish to build mutually advantageous long-standing relations, Deputy Foreign Minister Grigory Karasin said after a meeting with the Georgian prime minister’s special representative for relations with Russia Zurab Abashidze, on Thursday, November 21.
“The era of maniacal animosity that was imposed by the previous leadership of Georgia is history now. We are jointly looking for solutions that would be based on mutual respect and mutual advantages,” Karasin said. “The public opinion in our countries welcomes the improvement of atmosphere in relations between Russia and Georgia. In fact, Georgia has never been considered an enemy in Russia,” he said.
“Our dialogue started last year and this was our fifth meeting in Prague. There is obvious progress at the talks, trade relations between our countries are expanding, Georgian export to Russia is growing, and cultural ties are becoming more active,” the diplomat said.
The next, sixth, meeting between Karasin and Abashidze is scheduled to take place in Prague in February or March 2014.
“Since December of last year, at our meetings with Mr. [Deputy Foreign Minister Grigory] Karasin we have had a constructive discussion on how to restore and develop trade and economic relations, humanitarian, cultural and transport cooperation,” Abashidze told ITAR-TASS earlier this month.
“On November 21 in Prague we will also exchange proposals on the next stage of development of cooperation between the two countries in the areas we discussed at our previous meetings,” Abashidze said.
The first meeting took place in Geneva’s suburbs on December 14, 2012 and the following three were held in Prague on March 1, June 5 and September 19, 2013.
Acting Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili believes that “the meetings between Abashidze and Karasin play a positive role in the normalization of relations between the two countries.”
Russia needs patience and time to understand where its relations with Georgia are, Karasin said on November 6 after the end of the 25th round of Geneva International Discussions.
“We expect no quick and easy solutions. We will need patience and time to understand where we are in our bilateral relations, what has become more real and what remains unsolvable,” he said.
New Georgian President Georgy Margvelashvili said he would continue efforts to normalize relations with Russia if elected.
“The new government of Georgia has taken a number of steps in the past several months to normalize relations with Russia. This policy will be continued,” Margvelashvili said.
Ivanishvili said Georgia should normalize relations with Russia without mediators. “Both Europe and the United States supported and continue to support Georgia as best they can, they criticized 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 normalize 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 normalizing relations with Russia.
“The issue of normalizing 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 normalizing 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 normalization of relations, but it will take time and proper conditions,” he said.