TBILISI, November 29. /TASS/. Georgia’s Presidency in the Council of Europe’s Committee of Ministers is a good opportunity to get its relations with Russia back on track, Vice Speaker of the Russian State Duma (lower house of parliament) and head of Russia’s delegation to PACE Pyotr Tolstoy told Georgian reporters on Friday.
"I am very glad that Georgia assumed the Council of Europe’s presidency. That’s a very good experience for Georgia, which has been waiting for that for 20 years. It will also be a good experience for Europe, which should understand that Europe does not end in Prague but continues further. I believe this is a good opportunity for Georgia to mend ties with Europe’s largest country, Russia," Tolstoy said.
A similar opinion was earlier expressed by member of Russia’s Federation Council (upper house of parliament) Grigory Karasin. The senator likewise believes that Tbilisi needs to make the most of its Council of Europe presidency to maintain dialogue with Moscow.
On Wednesday, Georgia assumed the presidency of the Council of Europe’s Committee of Ministers for six months for the first time in the 20 years of its Council of Europe membership, taking over from France. The official ceremony was held in Strasbourg.
In 2008, Moscow recognized Abkhazia’s and South Ossetia’s independence, and Georgia broke off diplomatic relations with Russia in response. The consultations between Zurab Abashidze, the Georgian prime minister’s special representative for relations with Russia, and Grigory Karasin are the only form of official dialogue between the two countries.