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Georgian president hopes dialogue will help normalise relations with Russia

April 18, 2014, 1:03 UTC+3 TBILISI
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TBILISI, April 17 /ITAR-TASS/. Georgia’s attempt to normalise relations with Russia through dialogue “is not very successful thus far but promising”, President Georgy Margvelashvili said in a video interview with Reuters, fragments of which were shown by Georgia’s national television on Thursday, April 17.

“Tbilisi’s attempt to develop relations with Moscow through dialogue has not been very successful thus far, but we believe that it is promising, especially if our Western partners get engaged and support these talks,” the president said.

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

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 normalise 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, President 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.”

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

“Everyone understands that normalisation 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 normalising 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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