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New FM on Ties with Russia
Civil Georgia, Tbilisi / 8 Dec.'08 / 14:15

Grigol Vashadze, the Georgia’s new foreign minister, said Georgia’s “strategic vector” of foreign policy, involving Euro-Atlantic integration would not change.

In an interview with the Russian daily, Kommersant, published on December 8, Vashadze, who has double Russian-Georgian citizenship, said that Tbilisi’s key priorities towards Russia also remained unchanged.

When he was asked to comment on suggestions that his appointment could signal Tbilisi’s U-turn in relations with Russia - alluding to Vashadze’s double citizenship, the new Foreign Minister responded: “What does the change of the policy towards Moscow mean? We have never demanded what does not belong to us. Starting from 2003 Georgia has been repeating: all the problems can be resolved; all the vital interests should be taken into account. Only three fundamental principles can not be discussed: independence; sovereignty and territorial integrity of Georgia. All the rest can be resolved at the negotiating table.”

He also said that he had been maintaining contacts with the officials in the Russian Foreign Ministry. “Some senior leaders in the Russian MFA are my friends. But I won’t name them, sorry,” Vashadze said.

He has also declined to respond a question whether his direct contact with his Russian counterpart, Sergey Lavrov, was anticipated.

When asked if it was possible to restore diplomatic ties between the two countries, cut after the August war, Vashadze responded: “It’s possible. But there will never be three embassies on the Georgian soil.” Russia established diplomatic ties with Abkhazia and South Ossetia after recognizing the independence of these two breakaway regions and appointed ambassadors to Sokhumi and Tskhinvali.

“Russia has put itself in this deadlock,” Vashadze said. “But we, hand in hand with Russia, are ready to try to find way out of this situation.”

Vashadze, who has lived in Russia for about 30 years, worked for the Soviet Foreign Ministry between 1981 and 1988. After quitting the diplomatic service he was engaged in a private business, before President Saakashvili offered him to take the post of the Deputy Foreign Minister.

“I have received the Russian citizenship after the collapse of the Soviet Union and I still hold the Russian citizenship,” Vashadze said. “I obtained the Georgian citizenship through a special decree of the Georgian President in 2007.”

When asked if he wanted to reject the Russian citizenship after the August war, Vashadze responded: “No. I’ve got no citizenship of the Russian government. Government will go, but Russia and the Russian people will remain and they will make appropriate conclusions about what has happened in August.”

In the interview, Vashadze also said that the Georgian authorities’ key priority now was “to build a democracy on the rest of Georgia’s territory.”

Second wave of the democratization has been launched for that purpose,” he added.

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