Russia Ready to Discuss Regular Air Link with Georgia – Lavrov

MOSCOW, December 9 (RIA Novosti) – Moscow is ready to discuss restoring regular air link with Georgia, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Sunday.

Direct flights between Tbilisi and Moscow were suspended in 2006 following a spy row between the former Soviet neighbors. They resumed for a short time in 2008 and were halted again after the August 2008 war between Georgia and Russia over South Ossetia.

Switzerland is currently representing Russia’s interests in Georgia and Georgia’s interests in Russia following a five-day war between Moscow and Tbilisi over South Ossetia. Georgia cut diplomatic ties when Russia recognized South Ossetia and Abkhazia, another former Georgian republic.

“Few people know that charter flights [between Russia and Georgia] have been restored for a couple of years now. Recently, the number of charter flights has been increased and we are ready in principle to consider discussing the restoration of regular air flights,” Lavrov said.

The Russian foreign minister said a meeting of Russia’s and Georgia’s representatives would take place in the near future.

‘We’ll respond to the proposal [by Georgia’s Special Envoy for Relations with Russia Zurab] Abashidze and will hold contacts with him in the near future,” Lavrov said.

Russia is also ready to restart agricultural imports from Georgia, Lavrov said.

“When they tell us Georgia wants to further improve relations, we are ready to discuss resuming imports of Georgian agricultural products as well,” he said.

Russia banned imports of Georgian wines and two popular brands of mineral water in 2006 citing the poor quality of the products, a move widely condemned in Georgia as politically motivated.

Georgian billionaire tycoon Bidzina Ivanishvili, the leader of the Georgian Dream coalition that won the October 1 parliamentary elections, has said he wants to improve relations with Russia severely damaged under President Mikheil Saakashvili.


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