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Lavrov welcomes relationship between Georgian and Russian lawmakers

By Tea Mariamidze
Friday, July 14
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has stated that he welcomes the relationship between Russian and Georgian lawmakers after three MPs of The Alliance of Patriots of Georgia (APG) travelled to Moscow to meet representatives of Putin’s Yedinaya Rossiya and the Communist Party.

Lavrov made the statement at the press-conference after meeting his Belgian counterpart on Wednesday.

"As for the contacts between the Russian and Georgian parliamentarians, we only support it. Moreover, we are ready for contacts at other levels too," he stated.

Lavrov mentioned that for direct contact with Georgia there exists the format of Russian Deputy Foreign Minister, Grigory Karasin, and the Georgian PM’s special representative for relations with Russia, Zurab Abashidze; however, he added that Russia welcomes other formats as well.

"We are ready for other formats as well, which will be acceptable for both sides," he noted.

The Russian minister added that it is necessary to talk to each other and find solutions.

"We are neighbors, we have a lot in common in our shared history. That's why we welcome the initiative of the relationship between the parliamentarians," Lavrov said.

Giorgi Lomia, Ada Marshania and Nato Chkheidze from the pro-Russian opposition party -Alliance of Patriots of Georgia are the first MPs who arrived in Moscow since Georgia-Russian August war 2008.

Their visit was organized by the head of the Russian State Duma committee on CIS affairs and Eurasian integration and member of Russia’s Communist Party, Leonid Kalashnikov.

Despite the fact that 20% of Georgia’s territories are occupied by Russia, the Georgian lawmakers did not raise the issue of occupation at the meeting, which besides Kalashnikov was attended by Kazbek Taisayev from Communist Party and Artyom Kavinov from Yedinaya Rossiya.

Instead, the APG members spoke about the necessity to restore diplomatic relations and about the abolition of Georgia’s Law about Occupation, according to which Entry of the occupied territories by foreign citizens and stateless persons from any other direction, shall be prohibited and be punishable under the Criminal Code of Georgia.

Georgian media reports that discussions also focused on simplification of visa regime and on NATO- Georgia joint military drills, which were condemned by the Russian side.

The sides also agreed to establish an informal working group, which will gather every month and discuss the normalization process between Russia and Georgia.

After the meeting Georgian MPs expressed hope that the informal working group will be officially recognized by Georgian Parliament and Russian Duma as well.

Officials in Tbilisi say the visit of APG members to Moscow was not agreed with the government.

The Georgian Dream (GD) ruling party does not recognize any other formats except the Abashidze-Karasin meetings and the Geneva International Discussions.

The other parliamentary opposition parties also condemn the step of the Alliance of Patriots, and say the negotiations will not bring any positive outcomes.