In an interview with the TASS Russian news agency today, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, when asked if he saw any possibility of diplomatic relations between Georgia and Russia being restored in the near future, said that the decision to sever diplomatic relations between the two countries had been taken “by the Saakashvili regime”.
Lavrov said: “Diplomatic relations were not broken by us, it was the initiative of the Saakashvili regime, which, with the encouragement of the United States, raised its hand against its own citizens, against Ossetians, whom it considered its citizens, raised its hand against peacekeepers. And when it received a decent response, it began to compensate for its total political and military failure with anti-Russian actions.
He went on to say: “We have never had a negative attitude towards the Georgian people, we truly love the Georgian people, as indeed do all the peoples of the Transcaucasus. Georgians occupy a special place in the history of Russia, in the history of the Soviet Union, in the history of our art, culture and science”.
He added that when Moscow saw that the current government in Tbilisi was interested in normalizing relations, “we agreed with Mr. Garibashvili’s government to resume flights and abolish the visa regime”.
He also noted that the introduction of a visa-free regime for Georgian citizens on the basis of reciprocity and the establishment of air links “of course make our relations much more convenient, much more comfortable”. Lavrov also observed that “the number of flights is increasing, the geography of direct flights is also expanding, and trade turnover is growing”, stressing that many traditional Georgian export goods “are very popular in Russia: wine, Borjomi and much more”.
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