Moscow Hopes Georgia Pursues ‘Balanced’ Policy on Russia

The Foreign Ministry of Russia (MID) stated today it hopes the Georgian Government “will draw lessons from the past and pursue a more balanced policy towards Russia.”

It claimed that Moscow remains committed to normalizing relations with Georgia – “overcoming existing differences, restoring and developing bilateral ties” – but stressed that the process should be a “two-way street.”

The statement comes as Moscow has continued to build up its military forces in and around Ukraine and demanded from the Western states to turn their back on the NATO Bucharest Summit decision of 2008 that Georgia and Ukraine will eventually become members.

The MID also touched upon the ban on flights to and from Georgia, imposed by President Vladimir Putin in 2019 “to protect Russian citizens from violence or other illegal actions,” after the forced departure of the Russian lawmakers from Tbilisi and weeks-long anti-Russian occupation protests.

It claimed that conditions to lift the prohibition are “well known” to Tbilisi – “stabilizing the situation in Georgia, stopping the Russophobic campaign and eliminating threats to the security of our citizens.”

Kremlin officials have since 2019 repeatedly addressed Georgia with the same demand, all the while Tbilisi maintains that Russian citizens are not in any danger in the country. Foreign Minister David Zalkaliani has previously argued this was demonstrated by million-strong visitors from Russia to Georgia. According to Georgian National Tourism Administration data, in 2018 and 2019, about 1.4 million and 1.5 million Russian residents visited Georgia.

Noteworthy, Georgia also rejects the demand to restore bilateral ties, ruling out reestablishing diplomatic relations with Russia until it takes steps toward de-occupying Georgian regions of Abkhazia and Tskhinvali Region/South Ossetia.

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