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President Slams Russia over NATO Enlargement Remarks

Georgian President Giorgi Margvalashvili slammed his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin’s July 19 statement that NATO enlargement to Georgia and Ukraine poses “direct threat” to the Russian Federation.

Speaking at the ambassadorial meeting in Moscow, Vladimir Putin warned that the Kremlin would give appropriate response to “such aggressive steps,” and called for “a new, positive agenda aimed at collaboration and attempts to find common ground.”

In a statement released yesterday, President Giorgi Margvelashvili stressed Georgia’s cooperation with the Alliance “seeks to establish regional security and promotes stability, including on the southern borders of the Russian Federation.”

He also said the first step for “building a positive agenda,” should be the Kremlin’s compliance with the terms of the August 12, 2008 ceasefire agreement and granting the right to safe return to refugees and IDPs to their places of residence.

“Our proposals to Russia have been aimed at transforming the existing paradigm of confrontation into a space for cooperation, but confidence cannot be restored by violating sovereignty and territorial integrity of neighboring states,” the President added.

The Ball is in Russia’s Court, Diplomats Say

In an interview with Rustavi 2 TV also on July 19, Russia’s Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Maria Zakharova said Moscow is interested in “full restoration of neighborly relations” with Georgia, and that “progress in normalizing relations rests exclusively with Tbilisi’s political will and realism.”

Zurab Abashidze, the Georgian Prime Minister’s special representative for Russia, responded to the statement on July 20, saying if Moscow wants to “genuinely resolve” its relations with Georgia, “no one prevents it from doing so.”

“Instead of accusing others, the Russian side has to assess the situation with self-criticism and pursue the steps that the international community has long been expecting it to do,” Abashidze underlined, calling on Moscow to implement the 2008 ceasefire agreement and withdraw its troops from Abkhazia and Tskhinvali Region.

“Observing the principles of international law and respecting Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity is exactly what will demonstrate to the international community that Russia is willing to resolve its relations with Georgia,” he added.

Similar messages were voiced by Foreign Minister Davit Zalkaliani. He stressed Tbilisi has been pursuing constructive steps to deescalate the situation with Russia, but “unfortunately there has been no progress in terms of the political settlement [of the conflict].”

“[The key to restoring] full-scale relations lies on our redlines – [respecting] Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity; therefore, everyone, including the Russian Federation has to respect the norms of international law and its core principle – the territorial integrity and sovereignty of states,” Zalkaliani added.

This post is also available in: Georgian, Russian

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