Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said after talks with his Georgian counterpart Salome Zourabichvili on May 30 in Moscow that Russia will completely close down its bases in Georgia within 2008, Interfax and RIA Novosti news agency reported.
Agencies reported quoting Lavrov, that the sides signed a joint communique which prescribes details of the withdrawal process. “At first, the bases will be withdrawn from Akhalkalaki, and then from Batumi,” the Russian Foreign Minister added.
“It is prescribed in the joint communique that the withdrawal will be stage-by-stage. Initially, military hardware and personnel [of the military bases] will be pulled out and then handing over of the military facilities to Georgia will be carried out,” Lavrov said.
Georgian Foreign Minister Salome Zourabichvili said at a joint news conference that the sides could “achieve the goal” after long and burdensome work.
“I hope this [joint statement] will lead to final withdrawal of Russian military bases from the Georgian territory… The process [of withdrawal] itself will be difficult, but today we laid the foundation, which will enable us to move forwards,” RIA Novosti quoted Zourabichvili as saying.
She said that experts from Russia and Georgia will continue talks on May 31 to further negotiate the details of withdrawal process.