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Russia demands recognition of new political reality

By Messenger Staff
Monday, December 3
Russia’s leadership has finally responded to Georgia’s new diplomatic steps. Russian PM Dimitri Medvedev recently revealed Russia’s position with regard to the new Georgian government’s gestures. Georgia must recognize the new geopolitical reality of an independent Abkhazia and South Ossetia. It should be mentioned however, that this reality remains absolutely unacceptable for whoever is Georgia’s leader. Before the parliamentary elections of October 1, 2012, Saakashvili and his National Movement party labeled with limited success the Georgian Dream coalition and its leader Bidzina Ivanishvili a “Russian project.” On the other hand, Ivanishvili and his team claimed commitment to moving the country towards NATO and the EU, but by simultaneously promising to normalize relations with Russia.

For past several years, the Medvedev-Putin leadership repeatedly stated that they would not cooperate with Saakashvili and his administration. Georgia’s recent change in government has brought fresh hopes that Moscow would make some concessions towards Tbilisi. Ivanishvili has facilitated justification for such hopes when he expressed Georgia’s goodwill to restore trade and cultural relations with Moscow and promote the return of Georgian products to the Russian market. In addition, Ivanishvili established a new special envoy assigned to regulating Georgian-Russian relations. Diplomat Zurab Abashidze, Georgia’s former ambassador to Russia was appointed at this post.

On November 29, Russian PM Medvedev responded to Georgia’s overtures. However, he simply restated that the precondition for any such thawing of relations between the two neighbors would entail first and foremost, the recognition of the independence of Georgia’s breakaway regions. Medvedev’s position leaves no space for the Georgian administration to achieve the full restoration of relations with Moscow. There are certain absolutes that just can’t be accepted by Tbilisi; and Georgia’s territorial integrity represents the most essential. Moscow communicated its position on the matter publicly and thus frustrating the hopes of Georgia’s new leadership.

However unlikely it may be, there are some analysts who believe that Moscow’s position and rigidity on this matter could soften or even change over time. That said, the opening of dialogue on the top level between the two confronting sides already represents something positive. Georgia’s former foreign minister Irakli Menagarishvili thinks that conducting dialogue on some minor issues and regulating them would be a significant step forward. At least both sides agree that the restoration of cultural relations and the strengthening of economic ties are already a good sign and one can hope that over time, further steps will be taken towards solidifying Georgia’s territorial integrity.