Tbilisi not to restore diplomatic relations with Moscow

By Jamila Babayeva

Restoration of diplomatic relations with Russia is not possible as long as 20 percent of Georgia's territories remain occupied by this country.

Georgian Foreign Minister Maya Panjikidze made the remarks in response to her Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov, who recently spoke about the possibility of restoring diplomatic relations with Georgia.

"Our Russian colleagues are well aware of this; they have been repeatedly notified about our position. We do not intend to restore diplomatic relations at the expense of territorial integrity," Panjikidze said on air of Rustavi 2 TV channel.

She welcomed recent statements by the Russian side about the possibility of easing the visa regime with Russia, noting that it was facilitated by Georgian authorities "right policy".

Panjikidze futher noted that European integration still remains as Georgia's priority.

Russia's President Vladimir Putin recently said Moscow could restore visa-free regime with Georgia, the issue should be discussed at the expert level.

He noted that his personal attitude towards the current Georgian government has changed.

Georgia's President Giorgi Margvelashvili has recently said the country is taking all steps to ease tensions in relations with Russia.

Tbilisi broke off relations with Moscow in August 2008 when Moscow crushed a Georgian assault to reassert control over two rebel regions -- South Ossetia and Abkhazia -- and later recognized the regions. Georgia announced the two unrecognized republics as occupied territories in September 2008.