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Georgian president to analyze Putin’s remarks about their possible meeting

February 10, 2014, 20:48 UTC+3 TBILISI

“We watch closely every message from Russia because Georgian-Russian relations are among the most painful and thorny issues that are facing Georgia,” Margvelashvili said

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TBILISI, February 10. /ITAR-TASS/. Georgian President Giorgi Margvelashvili said he would “seriously analyze” Russian President Vladimir Putin’s remarks about a possible meeting between them.

“We watch closely every message from Russia because Georgian-Russian relations are among the most painful and thorny issues that are facing Georgia,” Margvelashvili said. “Therefore we will analyze today’s words [said by Putin] very seriously and thoroughly, hold consultations and form our position,” he said.

“If there is a possibility that such a meeting will give a positive impetus to Georgian-Russian relations, if there is the readiness to discuss serious issues, this will naturally serve as the basis for consultations both inside Georgia and with our Western colleagues and as the basis for thinking about the possibility of holding such a meeting,” the Georgian president said.

Replying to a question from a Georgian journalist at the Sochi Olympics media centre earlier in the day whether he would like to meet with the president of Georgia, Putin said: “Why not, if he expresses such a wish.”

“We would very much want to see the tragedies of 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.

Margvelashvili said earlier 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,” he said.


Possibility of dialogue

Russia and Georgia have been trying to normalize their relations on different fronts, including through the dialogue between Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Grigory Karasin and Georgian prime minister’s special representative for relations with Russia Zurab Abashidze.

Their next, sixth, meeting will take place in Prague in late February. The discussion would focus on “how to facilitate further development of trade and economic cooperation between the two countries, as well as cultural and humanitarian contacts,” Abashidze said.

The talks with Karasin have “produced certain results” in terms of restoring and developing trade, economic, cultural and humanitarian cooperation between the two countries, he noted.

“The meetings initiated by Georgia helped restore and develop trade, economic and cultural relations, tourism, and human contacts,” Abashidze said. “This is only the beginning of hard work to normalize relations between the two countries,” he added.

Russia has for the first time in six years allowed the import of Georgian wine, brandy, tea and dried fruits. Georgian tangerines, apples and pears had returned to the Russian market by November. As a result, bilateral trade turnover has increased manifold, with Moscow ranking among Georgia’s top five trade partners.

In late December 2013, Margvelashvili said that the direct dialogue between Abashidze and Karasin had not used up its potential and would be continued.

He believes that such consultations “have helped restore trade, economic and cultural relations between the two countries” and “can foster a high level of trust between the states and provide the background for solving important issues in the future.”


“A balanced policy”

Georgian Foreign Minister Maia Panjikidze said her country would continue “a balanced policy” to normalize relations with Russia.

“Everyone understands that normalization of relations with Russia will be a difficult process. At the same time, the format of direct dialogue with Moscow, specifically in the Abashidze-Karasin format, has already produced positive results and this progress should be carried on,” she said.

The minister reiterated that Georgia would continue “consistent policy” towards normalizing relations with Russia.

“Direct dialogue between Abashidze and Karasin has played an important role in this process,” she said.

The minister said the sides “have made progress in restoring and developing trade, economic and humanitarian relations between the two countries.”

However, she stressed that “relations with Russia will not be normalised to the detriment of Georgia’s territorial integrity.”

The first meeting between Abashidze and Karasin took place in Geneva’s suburbs on December 14, 2012 and the following three were held in Prague on March 1, June 5, September 19, 2013, and November 21, 2013.

Russia needs patience and time to understand where its relations with Georgia are, Karasin said. “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.

Karasin said Russia and Georgia wished to build mutually advantageous long-standing relations.

“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.

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