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Putin and Medvedev on restoring “friendly relations” with Georgia

By Mzia Kupunia
Monday, May 10
Russia is ready to reestablish partnership with all "constructive political forces" in Georgia, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said on May 8, a day before the May 9 WWII victory celebrations. He was speaking at the groundbreaking ceremony of the construction of a World War II Memorial in Moscow which will be a replica of the one blown up by the Georgian authorities in Kutaisi on December 19, causing the death of two people.

“I believe that a new, kind page will be opened in Russian-Georgian relations. We are ready to start a dialogue with all constructive political forces in Georgia, who are striving for a genuine partnership with Russia, and we will restore such partnership,” the Russian Prime Minister said at the ceremony.

Russia will always remember the “great historical road that our nations travelled together and all its stages, no matter how tough they were,” Putin stated, adding that the attendance of Georgian people at the celebration is “very important for Georgians.” “For us it is very important that today we are together, that the cultural, humanitarian and spiritual links and normal human relations between the people of our countries have not stopped,” Putin said.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev also raised the issue of “restoring kind, open and constructive relations” between Georgia and Russia. In a WWII victory day congratulatory letter to Georgian citizens, Medvedev hailed the “immortal heroism of the soldiers who shoulder-to-shoulder fought against fascism and defended their homeland and the peaceful future of their descendants.” He said that the two countries should “take the example” of the people who died during WWII “and defend the traditions of friendship, good neighbourliness and assistance.” “This call is supported by the absolute majority of the citizens of Georgia and Russia,” Medvedev’s letter reads.

In his address the Russian President criticises Georgian officials for demolishing the WWII memorial in Kutaisi, calling it “sacrilegious.” “I am sure any attempts to demolish the Russian-Georgian friendship are predestined for failure. Just as the Kutaisi Memorial will be recreated, the kind, open and constructive relations between our countries, based on strong cultural, spiritual and historical ties, will be restored,” the letter reads. President Medvedev also sent separate letters to the de facto Abkhazian and the South Ossetian leaders, congratulating them on WWII Victory Day. Georgian officials were not available for comment on the statements

The Russian leaders did not specify which “constructive political forces” they meant. However the only representatives of Georgian political circles to attend the ceremony and the celebration of Victory Day were Zurab Noghaideli and Nino Burjanadze. Noghaideli, leader of the Movement for Fair Georgia, did not attend the 65th anniversary of Victory Day as he did not have an invitation, the Georgian media reported, while leader of the Democratic Movement – United Georgia Nino Burjanadze attended as an “honoured guest.” “I do not feel any discomfort at being in Moscow attending a parade dedicated to the anniversary of the victory over fascism,” Burjanadze told journalists.

“Such statements about cooperation between the two countries are generally heard after meetings with particular opposition parties but the military support of the de facto Abkhazia and South Ossetia show us that Russia's real position is the opposite. Russia's words and actions have coincided in such a way that such expressive quotes have brought the two countries to war,” Political analyst Soso Tsiskarishvili told The Messenger.