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Foreign Ministry confirms talks with Russia over Borjomi fire

By Tea Mariamidze
Wednesday, August 30
Georgia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) has confirmed that a phone conversation was held between Georgian Prime Minister’s Special Envoy to Russia, Zurab Abashidze, and Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister, Grigory Karasin, over the fire in Borjomi Gorge.

The ministry says that while the fire was extensive, there was a need to find all the necessary equipment that could be used to effectively put out the fire, including equipment owned by the Russian Federation.

“The Government made a decision to apply to other countries for assistance in fire prevention measures. The appeal was made to the UN, EU, NATO and other partner and neighboring states,” the MFA stated.

The ministry says that during the phone conversation between Karasin and Abashidze, the Russian side expressed readiness to assist with equipment that would make it possible to efficiently carry out fire extinguishing works in case of any complication. Afterwards, a relevant note was sent to Russia via the Swiss Embassy.

“But later there was no need for further help from Russia. Relationship between rescue services is an established practice in case of emergencies. The same comment was made by Georgian Envoy and Press Speaker of the Russian Foreign Ministry,” the statement reads.

The Press Speaker of the Russian Foreign Ministry, Maria Zakharova, made a statement regarding the issue several days ago, saying Georgia requested help against the fire in the Borjomi Gorge, but while Tbilisi later thanked them, they ultimately refused Russian support.

Georgia’s chief opposition party, the United National Movement (UNM), says that the statement of the MFA confirms that Georgia asked for help from the occupant country, which deliberately burnt the Borjomi forest during the Georgia-Russia 2008 August war.

UNM member Salome Samadashvili stressed that members of cabinet were lying to the public when they stated that it was Russia who offered assistance.

Samadashvili says the cabinet members should be summoned to Parliament and provide further explanations.

"We are obliged to lay the responsibility of the members of the government.It is unclear why the Georgian side addressed the Russian side for help until it exhausted all other possibilities,” Samadashvili said.

Davit Usupashvili, Georgia’s former Speaker of Parliament and the leader of the opposition party, Movement for Construction, says he sees nothing bad if Georgia asked Russia for help.

“But the government should have directly explained the population about this and there was no need to hide that they asked Russia for help,” he added.