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Georgia ready to start dialogue with Russia, Saakashvili says

By Mzia Kupunia
Wednesday, June 30
Georgia is ready to start “large-scale” dialogue with Russia “without any preconditions,” Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili said at the opening of a National Security Council Session late on Tuesday. The session, which discussed Georgia’s plan for the implementation of the Strategy on Occupied Territories, was attended by the Parliamentary opposition, with the exception of MP Konstantine Gamsakhurdia. Zurab Tkemaladze from the non-Parliamentary opposition party Industry Will Save Georgia also attended.

The negotiations should cover the return of “500,000 ethnic Georgians, Abkhazians, Jews, Greeks, Ukrainians, Estonians and others to their homes, the restoration of their property and citizenship rights, the de-occupation of Georgia’s territories and of course issues of bilateral economic, political and diplomatic relations,” Saakashvili said. “Georgia has no interest in confronting Russia and is ready for dialogue with the Russian leadership, which unlike the Georgian leadership is elected in violation of all international norms,” he added.

The foreign policy of Georgia has become “more active,” the Georgian President said, citing the “frequent visits” of the Foreign Ministers of different states, including the recent visit of the Austrian Minister of Foreign Relations. “In the nearest future the Polish Foreign Minister and the US Secretary of State will visit Georgia. On July 14 the French Foreign Minister will celebrate French Independence Day in Georgia and on July 15 negotiations will start with senior European delegation members,” Saakashvili said, adding that “this is the historical moment to start Georgia’s European integration process.”

Saakashvili stressed the importance of simplifying the visa regime with the European Union and expressed hope that the process of moving towards a “visa free regime with the EU” will also start. “If there is any country which complies with the criteria for establishing a visa free regime among the Eastern Partners, it is Georgia,” the President stated.