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Relations with Russia have to begin ‘with clean slate’ — Georgian minister

July 03, 2014, 18:35 UTC+3 TBILISI
Georgian President Georgy Margvelashvili said in June his country was seeking to ease tensions with Russia as much as possible
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© Vadim Rymakov

TBILISI, July 03./ITAR-TASS/. Georgia and Russia “should begin their relations with a clean slate”, Georgian Interior Minister Alexander Chikaidze said on Thursday, July 3.

Commenting on the European Court of Human Rights’ ruling concerning the deportation of Georgians from Russia in 2006, he said it was “fair, just as it should be”.

“What happened in 2006 is very sad, but that’s the past and belongs to the past,” he said. “Now we have to think about future relations between Georgia and Russia, and they should begin with a clean slate.”

Georgian President Georgy Margvelashvili said in June his country was seeking to ease tensions with Russia as much as possible.

“Georgia is doing its best to ease tensions with Russia as much as possible and lower the political temperature in our relations to the minimum,” he said.

The president noted that the upcoming signing of the Association Agreement with the European Union on June 27 and the country’s integration with Europe would not run counter to Russia’s strategic interests.

Georgian Prime Minister Irakly Garibashvili said that “Georgia will continue constructive efforts to normalize relations with Russia”.

“Over the year and a half since the change of power in Georgia (when the Georgian Dream coalition won the parliamentary elections on October 1, 2012), the new government has taken concrete steps to normalize relations with Russia,” he said.

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 Maia Panjikidze Georgian Foreign Minister The prime minister believes it “very important” that the two countries are developing trade, economic and cultural cooperation and that “in 2013 Russia lifted the embargo on the import of Georgian wines, mineral water and Georgian agricultural produce”.

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 the Georgian prime minister’s special representative for relations with Russia Zurab Abashidze.

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 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 normalized 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. 

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