The restoration of diplomatic relations with Russia is impossible as long as the territorial integrity of Georgia is violated, said Zurab Abashidze, the special envoy of the Georgian Premier on settlement of relations with Russia.
“The restoration of diplomatic relations is not on the agenda,” he said while talking to reporters in Tbilisi on January 30, TASS reported.
He noted that "the issue of the restoration of diplomatic relations with Russia linked to the issue of Georgia's territorial integrity within the internationally recognized borders of the country."
"If there are serious joint steps for the peaceful restoration of Georgia's territorial unity, at some point this issue [the restoration of ties ] will be on the agenda. As for the abolition or simplification of visa regime, diplomatic relations do not interfere in it,” said Abashidze.
Earlier, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that Moscow is ready to go on the abolition of visas with Georgia, but this issue is strange to discuss, as long as the countries do not have diplomatic relations.
"If the Russian Federation has the political will, we are ready to make joint efforts for a phased settlement of the most complex problems in the relations between the two countries,” Abashidze added.
Earlier talking to Izvestia, Abashidze did not rule out that at the next meeting with Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Grigory Karasin may discuss the restoration of diplomatic relations between the two countries.
“If my esteemed colleague Zurab Abashidze has indeed made such a statement, it can only be welcomed. As is known, Russia has not severed diplomatic relations in September 2008, and the barriers to their recovery were not there, so that the timing of positive changes in this question depends solely on Tbilisi,” Karasin told Izvestia commenting on the issue.
A next round of talks between Zurab Abashidze and Grigory Karasin is scheduled for the first half of February, 2017 in Prague. Reportedly, the meeting will focus on the issues of the two countries cooperation in trade, economy, transport, culture, humanitarian aspects and current issues.
Tbilisi broke diplomatic relations with Moscow in 2008. The relations between Georgia and Russia have pushed all limits when Georgian troops launched military operations to retake the breakaway Abkhazia and South Ossetia regions on August 8, 2008. Russian armed forces entered the regions to stop the military attacks by Georgian troops. After four days of tense fighting, Georgian forces were expelled from South Ossetia and Abkhazia.
Both sides agreed to a ceasefire on August 12. Tbilisi immediately cut all diplomatic ties with Russia just a while after the bloody skirmish.
Abashidze’s first meeting with Karasin took place in December 2012. Later, the senior diplomats held meetings in the Czech capital of Prague between 2013 and 2016, with the latest of them on October 19, focusing on cooperation in trade, economy, transport, culture, humanitarian and current issues.
In late 2016, the parties confirmed that they intend to continue to pursue the normalization of relations. Russian President Vladimir Putin previously said that does not preclude the return of a visa-free regime with Russia for Georgian citizens, for this, according to him, there is every reason.
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