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Russia is ready to start talks with Georgia

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Tuesday, December 11
Russia has made a counter-step and is ready to begin negotiations with the Georgian side. Statements concerning the issue were made by both Georgian and Russian Foreign Ministers on December 10.

"Russia is ready to meet with Georgia's Special Envoy to Russia, Zurab Abashidze," Russian Foreign Minister, Sergey Lavrov stated. He also hoped that the meeting will "clear out something."

Lavrov emphasized that Russia has never been against diplomatic relations with Georgia. Moreover, Russia has showed its readiness to even "compromise" regarding Georgian issues.

The Russian Foreign Minister underscored that the Kremlin supports the return of Georgian products to the Russian market.

Georgian Foreign Minister, Maia Panjikidze, stated that the meeting between Russian representatives and Abashidze will be held in one of the European countries, without naming the country.

According to her, the Russian side contacted Abashidze regarding the meeting.

"The Georgian side welcomes such contact. It will be a technical meeting; we are not waiting for some serious outcomes from it. However, the fact that the first meeting will take place is a positive hint," Panjikidze said.

Head of the Georgian Parliament's Foreign Relations Committee, Tedo Japaridze, was not as hopeful regarding the first meeting.

"Of course making such statement from the Russian side is a positive gesture. However, the process will be long and a complicated one," Japaridze suggested.

The parliamentary minority (the United National Movement), advised the government to show principle and protect Georgian interests during the negotiations.

According to minority MP, Davit Darchiashvili, Russia has always demanded taking its interest into account.

"However, Russia has never stated openly and officially which interests should be foreseen," Darchiashvili stated, adding that Georgia's subordinate position was hidden under such claims.

"Russian interests in reality meant spreading Russian influence over the country and turning the country into a Russian zone of influence. Russia is trying the same now. We were interested in normal relations with Russia but not at the expense of the national interests," Darchiashvili stated.

"The fact that Lavrov, therefore the Foreign Ministry, responded to the Georgian side, means that Abashidze will not be able avoid discussions on diplomatic issues, when currently diplomacy is not his prerogative," Analyst SosoTsintsadze stated.

The analyst explained that it would be better if some other state institutions of Russia responded to the Georgian side.

"It would be shorter and easier way for restoration of trade and economic relations with our northern neighbor. However, the fact that Russia is ready to start talks with Georgia is a positive message. At the same time, the positive message should not impose euphoria in us, as Russia has not changed its preconditions on the recognition of Georgian occupied regions," Tsintsadze said.

The post of Special Envoy to Russia was established after the coalition Georgian Dream's coming to power and the idea of creating the post belonged to the Prime Minister of Georgia, Bidzina Ivanishvili. Ivanishvili had stated that restoration of trade and economic relations with Russia was on the agenda, as improvement of diplomatic relations requires more time and effort.