TBILISI, DFWatch–The Georgian president says he will ‘carefully and seriously analyze’ a statement made by Russian President Vladimir Putin about a possible meeting between the two of them.
When Georgian journalists attending the Sochi Winter Olympics asked Putin about the possibility for such a meeting, he said if the Georgian president wants, he is ready to meet him.
Margvelashvili has not said he wants a meeting, but said he plans to carefully and seriously study the statement Putin made. He also said that he is carefully following such messages from the Russian president.
“Georgia-Russia relations is one of the most painful and problematic relations Georgia has,” he said, adding that the government will announce its position about Putin’s statement after consultations.
He said if there is any possibility that this type of meeting can bring a positive impetus to relations between Georgia and Russian and if there is an earnest willingness to review problematic topics, then there are grounds for discussing whether to hold such a meeting, and this discussion will be held both internally in Georgia and with the country’s western partners.
There have been no diplomatic relations between Georgia and Russia since the war in August 2008. Russia has recognized two breakaway regions, Abkhazia and South Ossetia, as independent countries, and is propping them up with money and military bases, an area which covers about fifth of Georgia’s territory. There are regular talks between the conflict parties, but with no serious results.
President Putin and former President Mikheil Saakashvili met once after the latter came to power in the Rose Revolution in 2003. Relations became tense from 2006, when Georgia publicly detained four Russian diplomats and accused them of being spies. Russia responded by introducing an embargo on Georgian wine and other products, and there was a mass deportation of Georgians from Russia.
During this time, Russian leaders said that Mikheil Saakashvili and his government were unacceptable for them and they would start dialogue with the new government. Former Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili and Putin never met, but on the initiative of the new government, there are being held regular talks between the Georgian PM’s special representative for Russian relations and Russia’s deputy foreign affairs minister, who have been meeting during one year. As a result of these talks, Georgia resumed its export of wine and agricultural products to Russia.
For Winter Sochi Olympics, there were opened direct flights from Tbilisi to Sochi and back, which there hasn’t been for many years.
Putin on Monday said flights between Sochi and Tbilisi will continue after the Olympics is finished.
The Russian president also said that the participation of Georgian athletes in the Olympics was a step forward in regulating Georgia-Russia relations.
Margvelashvili said the new government’s policy is that commercial and cultural relations with Russia are a precondition for solving difficult political problems between the two states.
“Georgia’s occupation doesn’t bring any positive result for Russia, and moreover it doesn’t bring any positive results for any parties,” the Georgian president said.
“Our brothers who live beyond the barbed wires do not benefit from this political step.”
He continued saying that these steps are difficult for Georgia and for Russia.
“So any type of connections which can ease tension and move us to a rational dialogue can give us the opportunity to finally get to these topics,” he added.