Russia, Georgia Have Chance to Revitalize Ties – Deputy FM

MOSCOW, December 14 (RIA Novosti) – Russia and Georgia have a chance to normalize bilateral ties which have been extremely strained since the two countries fought a brief war in August 2008, Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Grigory Karasin said on Friday.

“There are real possibilities to revitalize [relations] despite all the difficulties which accrued during the rule of [Georgian President Mikheil] Saakashvili,” Karasin said after the first face-to-face meeting with the Georgian Prime Minister’s special envoy on Russian issues, Zurab Abashidze, in Geneva as part of the ongoing discussions on resolution of the situation in the Caucasus.

At the meeting the sides agreed that “the Russian-Georgian bilateral relations are in a deadlock and have to be revitalized,” Karasin said adding relations are expected to be advanced in such areas as trade, transport, airline flights and culture.

“We will try to find the solutions which will meet the interests of both states,” he said.

Georgia broke off diplomatic relations with Russia after their August 2008 war over Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Georgia lost one-fifth of its territory after the two republics broke away.

Georgian Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili, whose Georgian Dream coalition won the October 1 parliamentary election, said in November that Tbilisi is restarting its ties with Moscow “from a clean slate” but that restoration of diplomatic relations will be linked to the issue of Georgia’s territorial integrity.

Moscow, however, keeps ruling out any negotiations on the status of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, which Russia recognized as independent states.

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