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PM Addresses Russia over Tatunashvili’s Case

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Monday, March 12
(TBILISI) - The Georgian Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili has addressed Russia to resolve the “current complicated situation” over the transfer of the body of a Georgian citizen Archil Tatunashvili from the occupied Tskhinvali region to “fully embrace responsibility” to the present and future generations.

The Georgian opposition has immediately condemned Kvirikashvili’s step, demanded him to ask pardon to the Georgian people and resign.

The Georgian Dream team members, meanwhile, stated that the PM took a right step and sent “clear messages” to the occupant country.

In his statement Kvirikashvili wrote that the coming August marks the 10th anniversary since the Russia-Georgia 2008 war.

He stated the dramatic event has made a “tremendous mark” on the Georgian people's minds and Georgia-Russia relations.

Kvirikashvili said that in the wake of the 2008 war, diplomatic ties have been severed between the two countries.

“Moscow's recognition of independence of Abkhazia and the Tskhinvali Region has brought all prospects of normal relations between our states to a dead end.

“Today, we are facing a choice: meet this anniversary with mutual accusations and harsh statements, for which there certainly has been no lack throughout these years, or take sensible steps, even small, to lead our relations out of this vicious circle,” Kvirikashvili said.

Kvirikashvili underscored that the Georgian Dream government, which came into power in 2012, stated that they intended to resolve the current conflict peacefully.

“Unfortunately, we are facing a difficult reality today. Although we have restored bilateral trade [with Russia] and economic relations, a chain of tragic events continues. This undermines the prospects of regulating Georgia-Russia relations,” Kvirikahsvili stated.

He said that the latest tragic fact, death of a Georgian soldier Tatunashvili, 35, in unclear circumstances in Tskhinvali on February 23 was an example of the difficult reality.

“Tatunashvili’s body has yet to be handed to his family, despite much effort from the Government of Georgia, the Catholicos-Patriarch, and the international community.

“I urge the leadership of the Russian Federation to take joint steps and resolve this complicated situation, while fully embracing our responsibility to the present and future generations,” Kvirikashvili said.

The United National Movement (UNM) and most of the opposition parties have stated that the Prime Minister’s statement was “shameful” and he must resign from the post.

The UNM stated that instead of recognizing the “complete failure” of the 6-year policy to Russia and taking steps to protect the state and citizens, the Georgian government offered new concessions to Russia.

“The PM practically removed the status of occupant from Russia and granted the country, which occupies 20 percent of the Georgian land, a status of mediator,” the UNM stated.

“Kvirikashvili must ask pardon for the statement and leave his post, as his statement equals recognising of Abkhazia and Tskhinvali as independent states,” the party claims.

The Georgian President Giorgi Margvelashvili has not directly responded to the PM’s statement, but said during his meeting in Brussels that the Georgian policy to Russia is a policy of “strategic patience.”

“This policy is adopted in accordance with the 2013 Declaration of the Parliament and we operate within its framework,” President Margvelashvili said.

The Georgian Dream party and the government members were unanimous that Kvirikashvili made a right and a timely step when he addressed Russia to settle the Tatunashvili’s case jointly.

Tatunashvili and two other Georgian citizens Levan Kutashvili and Ioseb Pavliashvili were detained by occupation forces on February 22 in the area of Akhalgori, on the territory currently controlled by Russians.

More than two weeks after Tatunashvili’s death, his body has not been handed over to his family for burial, while Kutashvili and Pavliashvili still remain in Tskhinvali.

Upon the request of Georgian Patriarch Ilia II, Russian Patriarch Kirill has promised to mediate in the process of handing over Tatunashvili’s body to Tbilisi-administered territory in the shortest period of time.