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Georgia carries out constructive policy toward Russia — prime minister

June 15, 2016, 17:55 UTC+3 BERLIN

We have become very constructive, trade and tourism relations between our countries have been restored, Georgian Prime Minister Georgy Kvirikashvili said

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Georgian Prime Minister Georgy Kvirikashvili

Georgian Prime Minister Georgy Kvirikashvili

© AP Photo/Markus Schreiber

BERLIN, June 15. /TASS/. Georgia adheres to constructive policy toward Russia, Prime Minister Georgy Kvirikashvili said on Wednesday.

"We are always trying to avoid sharp, unfriendly rhetoric toward Russia. The Georgian government has changed its attitude toward this matter since 2012. We have become very constructive, trade and tourism relations between our countries have been restored," Kvirikashvili said at a joint press conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Tbilisi is trying to explain that Georgia’s accession to NATO "does not present a threat to NATO," the prime minister noted. He added that Georgia is trying to "bring the temperature in relations (with Russia) down and talk about peaceful resolution of existing problems." However, he stressed that "there is no compromise in the issue of Georgia’s territorial integrity and sovereignty."

In November 2012, Georgia’s the then Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili established an office of prime minister’s special envoy for relations with Russia and appointed diplomat Zurab Abarshidze, Georgia’s former ambassador to Russia in 2000-2004, to that post. On December 14, 2012, Abashidze’s first meeting with Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Grigory Karasin took place in a Geneva suburb. It resumed direct dialogue between the two countries officials suspended after the 2008 developments. Further meetings were held in Prague. In 2013-2016, there were 11 such meetings, the latest one - on March 16, 2016. Georgia’s and Russia’s top officials have repeatedly stressed the importance of dialogue in the Abashidze-Karasin format.

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.

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