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Karasin: Russia Wishes Good Ties with Georgia but Without Secessionist Regimes

By Tea Mariamidze
Friday, January 26
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister, Grigory Karasin says Russia wants to restore good-neighborly relations with Georgia. The deputy stated they do not intend to do it at the expense of the interests of breakaway Abkhazia and South Ossetia, recognized by Russia as independents states after 2008 Georgia-Russia war.

Russian diplomat made the statement in his interview with the Russian news agency Kommersant.

Karasin noted that the process of gradual recovery of Russian-Georgian relations is already underway. He said it began after ex-President of Georgia, Mikheil Saakashvili's party lost parliamentary elections in Georgia in October 2012.

“The current government of Georgia announced its desire for a dialogue with Russia and we immediately responded to this positive signal,” he stated, adding the only diplomatic format between Russia and Georgia, so called Abashidze-Karasin regular meetings, started in 2012.

However, Karasin believes there are serious political obstacles to large-scale normalization of relations between Russia and Georgia.

He added official Tbilisi does not want to recognize a new political reality that have been created since 2008, as well as to revise its demonstrative decision about the cutoff of diplomatic relations with Russia.

“In order to restore diplomatic ties with Russia Georgia has one condition – They want us to reverse recognition of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. This won’t do. We have made the final decision over the issue,” he claimed.

As for the issue of visa regime with Georgia, Karasin stated that Russia is not going to abolish visas for Georgian citizens yet, but did not exclude this might happen one day.

Karasin explained that Georgia lifted visa-requirements not only for Russian citizens but hundreds of other states, adding this is a step forward to attract more foreign tourists.

“When talking about visa-free regime, we should think about the security issues. We are fighting terrorism and extremism and we should take maximum measures of security,” he added.

After Georgia cut diplomatic ties with Russia in 2008, the first meeting between Karasin and Georgian Envoy Zurab Abashidze took place in Geneva on December 14, 2012.

Since 2013, the meetings have been held in Prague. The meetings constitute a direct dialogue between the two countries’ officials following the 2008 Russian-Georgian war.