TBILISI, DFWatch–Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili says the fact that there is a dialogue between Tbilisi and Moscow shouldn’t create the impression that the country doesn’t need support from its partners anymore.
He said this in a speech at a session of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) in Strasbourg today.
Ivanishvili said that there is still a danger of war, because there is still aggression directed against Georgia, as 20 percent of its territory has been occupied by Russia since 2008.
“I should note that Caucasus is not yet a peaceful zone,” the Georgian head of government said. “Our position towards Russia will be correct, but principled.”
He continued saying that both parties have ‘red lines’ which they do not plan to cross. In this process Georgia needs the engagement and support of its European partners and the international community.
Bidzina Ivanishvili said it is his and his coalition’s dream to mend relations with Russia.
“It was easy to get into the deadlock, but leaving it is not easy,” he said. “You know we have a certain progress already in regards to trade and the cultural field. I do not have any illusion that the problem with territorial integrity will soon be solved, but through correct steps we will receive results.”
The Prime Minister was asked about his views on the reopening of a railway which runs through the breakaway region Abkhazia and links Russia with Georgia and Armenia. He said he is sure that the railway will be reopened.
“This is related to conflicts and to our independence, relations with Russia, also with our brothers in Abkhazia,” he said, adding that the issue should be solved through protecting the interests of every party, but that this will take time.
The previous government and President Mikheil Saakashvili are against reopening the railway.
After the speech, the PM was asked what he thinks if Abkhazians and people in South Ossetia will be given an opportunity for their voice to heard, for example at sessions of PACE. Aleksey Pushkov from the Russian delegation asked him about this, drawing on the example of Kosovo.
“I think they will have an opportunity to be heard here in our delegation,” he said, but added that unfortunately the de facto governments of South Ossetia and Abkhazia aren’t open even if there is support from the international community.
The PM said Kosovo didn’t restrict but invited international observers and was open to any type of cooperation, which is different from Abkhazia and South Ossetia.