MOSCOW, October 10. /TASS/. Russia needs to understand Georgia’s position on normalization of bilateral ties before resumption of flights to this country, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Andrei Rudenko said in an interview with TASS.
"If we see that the Georgian side truly wants to normalize our relations, we will be thinking of some other steps, including the one you mentioned," he underlined.
On June 21, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree temporarily banning Russian air companies from carrying out flights to Georgia from July 8. Starting on July 8, the Russian Transport Ministry's decision of June 22 to suspend Georgian flights to Russia also came into effect. The sanctions were introduced after a few thousand people staged an anti-Russian rally in front of the parliament building in Tbilisi on June 20, which was dispersed by police.
The clashes were instigated by a scandal around the Russian delegation headed by State Duma (Russian parliament’s lower chamber) lawmaker Sergei Gavrilov that arrived in Georgia for a session of the Inter-Parliamentary Assembly on Orthodoxy.
Relations with Russia
Tbilisi has expressed interest in improving relations with Moscow, particularly in the economic field, the Russian deputy foreign minister told TASS.
"The parties [the foreign ministers of Russia and Georgia, Sergey Lavrov and David Zalkaliani] discussed ways to improve relations at their meeting in New York," he said. "We are interested in taking relations to the level that existed before the June and July events. We have informed Georgia about it. They, too, are interested in improving ties for economic reasons and perhaps for some other reasons as well," Rudenko added.
"We are assessing the situation, waiting for clearer signals from Tbilisi that would indicate its readiness to move in this direction," the senior Russian diplomat pointed out.
A meeting between the foreign ministers of Russia and Georgia took place on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly on September 26, for the first time since 2008, when Tbilisi had severed diplomatic ties with Moscow in the wake of Russia’s recognition of the independence of South Ossetia and Abkhazia. Since 2012, the two countries have been maintaining dialogue only through meetings between Special Representative of the Georgian Prime Minister for Relations with Russia Zurab Abashidze and Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Grigory Karasin.
Karasin recently stepped down and was succeeded by Rudenko.
No visits of Georgian leaders to Russia planned
There are currently no plans to organize visits by representatives of the Georgian leadership to Russia, the high-ranking diplomat told TASS.
"No visits are planned," he said responding to a corresponding question.
On Tuesday, Georgia’s Rustavi 2 TV channel reported that preparations were underway for Georgian Prime Minister Giorgi Gakharia’s visit to Moscow due in November.