TBILISI, December 29. /TASS/. Georgia should constructively react to a statement of the Russian president who said the Georgian, Abkhazian and South Ossetian people should discuss in a dialogue the problems existing between them, a candidate for Georgian prime minister told a parliamentary session on Tuesday.
"We may have internal skepticism as to Russia’s policy towards Georgia, but we should at least show constructiveness in response to such statements of the Russian president and by no means leave such statements without attention," Georgy Kvirikashvili said.
"It is necessary to use all possibilities and potentials of such statements from the Russian leadership," he said. "It is very important that we continue pragmatic, oriented to peace with Russia policy to ensure a peaceful and stable development for Georgia," the candidate said.
"Over the past three years, the Georgian authorities have done a lot for this," he added. "Pragmatic policy towards Russia will be continued, of course on the basis of Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity," Kvirikashvili said.
At a news conference in Moscow on December 17, President Vladimir Putin said Russia was ready to mend relations with Georgia and to scrap visa requirements with that country.
"We are ready to restore relations. Territorial integrity of Georgia is first of all the business of the Georgian, the South-Ossetian and Abkhazian people," the president said, noting that Russia would accept any decision Georgia would agree with South Ossetia and Abkhazia.
Russia is "seeing signals from the current Georgian leadership and these signals are accepted," Putin said at his annual news conference. He drew attention of the audience to the fact that Russia accounted for two thirds of Georgian exports of vine materials and wine.
Georgia's former adventurist government should carry the historic blame for the country's break-up, and Russia did not initiate the degradation of Russian-Georgian relations, President Putin told the keynote annual news conference.
Abkhazia, a province situated on the north-western Black Sea coast, sought independence from Georgia since the collapse of the Soviet Union. Deterioration of relations between Georgia and Abkhazia reached its peak in the 1990s and led to armed clashes that left about 20,000 people killed. In 1994, Abkhazia adopted its own constitution and declared independence from Georgia. A referendum in 1999 supported the republic’s statehood, but it was never accepted by the international community.
In early August 2008, when Georgia attacked South Ossetia, Abkhazia backed Russia’s operation to coerce Georgia into peace and asked Moscow to recognize its sovereignty. After the 2008 conflict Moscow declared that it would formally recognize the independence of both South Ossetia and Abkhazia. Russia's allies Nicaragua and Venezuela followed suit, as did a number of small Pacific island states.