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Moscow says no to Tbilisi’s dialogue proposal

By Mzia Kupunia
Monday, July 4
Russia rejected Georgia’s official request to start a dialogue with Tbilisi. The Kremlin does not want to have any contacts with Mikheil Saakashvili of Georgia, Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said, “because of absolutely comprehensible reasons.” Speaking to the journalists after Russian State Duma’s Foreign Relations Committee session on June 30, Lavrov told reporters that Moscow has heard Tbilisi’s proposals on launching a dialogue many times before. “These calls have never brought any results because the Georgian side never took any steps following the proposals,” the Russian top diplomat noted “It was not us who broke up diplomatic ties. It was Tbilisi,” he added.

Last week Tbilisi handed an official note to the Swiss Ambassador to Georgia and requested Moscow to engage in talks with Georgia on alleged ethnic cleansing violations committed by Russia on Georgian territory during the past 20 years. Georgia’s request for launching negotiations follows the refusal of the International Court of Justice to hear Georgia’s case against Russia, citing that the ICJ had “no jurisdiction to entertain the application.” On April 1 the Court upheld one of the arguments filed by Moscow that Georgia appealed directly to ICJ in August 2008 without trying to negotiate on the issues of Convention on Elimination of All forms of Racial Discrimination with Moscow. At the same time the Court rejected another argument of Russia that there was “no dispute” between the two countries over the racial discrimination of ethnic Georgians in Abkhazia and Tskhinvali region.

Despite Lavrov’s verbal rejection of Tbilisi’s proposal, authorities in Georgia say they are still waiting for an official reply from Moscow. “The Minister’s statement cannot be regarded as an official answer,” Deputy Foreign Minister of Georgia, Nino Kalandadze said “We will wait for an official position in reply to our note,” she added. Russian diplomat’s attitude indicates that Moscow “was never going to hold a dialogue with Georgia on Russia’s responsibility about ethnic cleansing and racial discrimination of Georgians.”

“Lavrov’s statement once again proves the rightness of the position of the Georgian side – that Georgia had exhausted all resources of a dialogue with Russia [when Tbilisi filed a lawsuit to ICJ],” stated Kalandadze. “Russia’s arguments against engaging in a dialogue with Georgia are very blatant and inadequate,” she added.

Georgia suspended diplomatic relations with Russia following the Russia' invasion of Georgia in August 2008. Swiss Embassies in Tbilisi and Moscow represent the interest of the two countries in Georgia and Russia.