Thursday, June 24, 2010

Georgia: Medvedev says Moscow and Tbilisi will improve ties as soon as Georgian President leaves his post

FOCUS Information Agency - Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said on Thursday Moscow and Tbilisi will improve ties as soon as Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili (photo) leaves his post, RIA Novosti reports.

Long-standing tensions between Russia and the former Soviet republic of Georgia turned violent during a five-day war in August 2008, when Tbilisi attacked South Ossetia, where most residents are Russian passport holders, in an attempt to bring it back under central control.

"As soon as Georgia gets a new leader we will have every opportunity to restore ties," he said at a meeting with representatives of business, scientific and public circles in the Stanford University.

The Russian authorities have earlier expressed their readiness to negotiate with "realistically minded" political figures in Georgia, such as opposition leaders Nino Burdzhanadze and Zurab Nogaideli. Moscow has stressed the need of searching for a way out of the impasse in Russian-Georgian relations, saying it was "key to peace in the Trans-Caucasus."

Medvedev said that the two neighbors currently had "dramatically poor relations."
"And this is not our fault, because we think that Russia protected its citizens and interests. Regrettably, it led to sad consequences, but I wish our relations with Georgia are back to normal," he said.

"Furthermore, I'm absolutely sure that this would happen. The two neighbors just cannot afford to carry on endless polemics and squabbles. We lived together for centuries, and we always had very good relations," Medvedev said.

He said that he saw no chance to improve relations with Georgia under the current leadership in the ex-Soviet state.

"I don't see any chances [for improvement] during the incumbent Georgian president's rule, because I am convinced that he did a bad thing, or, to put it in legal terms, he committed a crime," he said, adding that Saakashvili's responsibility was up to Georgian people to decide.
He said that despite numerous calls to reverse the recognition of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, Russia would continue to treat the former Georgian republics as independent states.

"This is the Russian Federation's approach," he said.