TBILISI, August 6. /TASS/. Georgian Prime Minister Irakly Garibashvili said the government was pursuing the policy towards mending relations with Russia, noting, however, that "destructive forces" in the country were against that.
"I have no doubt that destructive forces inside Georgia don’t want normalization of ties with Russia, don’t want the development of trade and economic cooperation between the two countries," the prime minister told reporters.
"The Georgian government seeks normalization of ties with Russia, this process has already started, with step-by-step discussion and settlement of the main stumbling blocks in relations with the Russian Federation in store," he continued.
"Georgia values it that trade and economic relations with Russia were restored through a constructive dialogue," Garibashvili said, also noting progress seen in these ties as a result of "a constructive and pragmatic dialogue".
"We value this, we want to continue developing trade and economic cooperation with Russia," he added. Under the amended Georgian Constitution that came into effect in 2013, the powers of the president have been curbed while the role of the prime minister expanded.
In 2006, Russia banned the import of wine, mineral water and agricultural products from Georgia due to quality issues. From May 2013, Georgia has been stage-by-stage restoring supplies and since then Georgian exports to Russia have grown six times.
Relations between the two countries soured when on August 8, 2008, Georgian forces attacked the breakaway region of South Ossetia. Russia sent its forces into the region to protect the citizens of South Ossetia, many of whom held Russian passports, and expelled the Georgian forces. Russia then recognized the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, after which Georgia broke off diplomatic relations with it.