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Saakashvili Speaks of Russia, Hails Putin as 'Historic Figure'
Civil Georgia, Tbilisi / 23 Feb.'07 / 19:34

Officials from the Russian and Georgian Trade and Commerce Chambers will gather in Tbilisi in less than two months to discuss cooperation, President Saakashvili said on February 23.

He did not elaborate further on the issue, but noted that he can only welcome the restoration of contacts between the two countries. Saakashvili also said that Patriarch of the Georgian Orthodox Church Illia II will pay a visit to Moscow “on a goodwill mission.”

Speaking at a news conference, Saakashvili also said that “there are some positive signs” in bilateral relations.

But he also said that thinking about Russo-Georgian ties does not top his agenda.

“It won’t be true if I say that I am thinking about it night and day and I am dreaming about it at nights. No, it is not so. I am thinking about turning Georgia into a strong state and about development. We will achieve this regardless of obstacles,” Saakashvili said.

He said that there have been number of “misunderstandings and unpleasant moments” in bilateral ties, but added that the rhetoric has been toned down recently.

Saakashvili also said that although he may not agree on certain issues with the Russian Ambassador to Georgia, he had a useful conversation with him on January 31. Russian Ambassador Vyacheslav Kovalenko said on February 6 that Moscow wants to see a neutral Georgia, a condition at odds with Tbilisi’s NATO ambitions.

But Saakashvili said on February 23 that Georgia “will not turn from its course.”

The Georgia leader also hailed his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin as a “very important” figure who has played a role of “historic importance for modern Russia.”

“Today it is an absolutely different Russia than it was several years ago,” Saakashvili said.

“We are strongly interested in having partnership relations with Russia,” he added.

Saakashvili also said that after Georgia’s failure in its bid to host 2014 Winter Olympic Games, he is now supporting Sochi’s bid.

“Olympic games in Sochi would foster peaceful processes in this region that has always been associated with conflicts. So in this regard, [Olympic Games in Sochi] will be a positive incentive for regional cooperation.” Saakashvili said.

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