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Georgian-Russian diplomatic relations

By Messenger Staff
Wednesday, August 7
Russian Prime Minister Dimitri Medvedev put forward his country’s preconditions for the restoration of diplomatic relations with Georgia. These preconditions include the recognition and acknowledgement that Georgian President, Mikheil Saakashvili, initiated the war.

Georgian Minister of Justice, Tea Tsulukiani, responded to this idea by saying there should be no such preconditions. Analysts and politicians here in Georgia keep asking however: how can this issue be put forward at all? How can Georgia restore diplomatic relations with a country that currently occupies its territories and does not recognize Georgia’s territorial integrity? Most of the answers to these questions are negative.

Georgia broke diplomatic relations with Russia immediately after the Russian attack on Georgia in August of 2008. In his election campaign and after the parliamentary elections, Georgian Dream coalition leader, Bidzina Ivanishvili, began discussing plans on how to achieve the normalization of relations between the two countries.

This gave ground to the Kremlin to decide that the Georgian-Russian relations could be restored according to preconditions set by Russia. So, Russian President, Vladimir Putin and Prime Minister Dimitri Medvedev, stated Moscow’s readiness to restore diplomatic relations under the Kremlin’s preconditions.

However, Georgian leaders have never mentioned restoration of diplomatic relations particularly based on the Russian conditions.

Georgia’s former Foreign Minister, Salome Zourabichvili, also negatively responded to Moscow’s demand.

There can be no immediate restoration of diplomatic relations because in this case, there will be three Russian embassies on Georgian territory– in Tskhinvali, Sukhumi and in Tbilisi, which will be immediately understood by the international community as Georgia’s indirect recognition of its breakaway territories as independent states.

Restoring diplomatic relations between Georgia and Russia with or without the Russian preconditions will be a beneficial for Moscow, whereas for Georgia it could yield dangerous results.

Georgian analysts think that if Tbilisi admits that it was Saakashvili’s regime that started the war in 2008, it will yield disastrous results for Georgia. Apart from the recognition of Georgia’s breakaway territories as independent states, these so-called independent states could sue Georgia in the international court.

Concessions coming from the Georgian side have become a matter of speculation and dispute within Georgian politics. Moscow believes that eventually it could force the new Georgian leadership to make extra concessions and make them agree to the Russian demands. This will eventually create much frustration among the Georgian population, which will presumably lead to the Georgian Dream losing popular support.

So, Georgian foreign policy regarding Russia is at a crossroads and a very balanced, long-term design and wise decisions should be taken through Georgian diplomacy.