Russia’s PM Vladimir Putin met with Georgia’s ex-parliamentary chairperson and leader of opposition Democratic Movement-United Georgia party, Nino Burjanadze, in Moscow on March 4.
“Life moves forward and I very much hope, that by relying on those people, who want to have normal relations with Russia, we will be able to restore pre-crisis level of our relations,” Russian news agencies report, quoting Putin as saying at the meeting with Burjanadze.
“Unfortunately, there are people in the political leadership of Georgia with whom we could not build relations. Moreover, I believe, their policies resulted into tragedy [referring to the August war],” Putin said.
Putin also said that reopening of Kazbegi-Zemo Larsi border crossing point between Russia and Georgia on March 1 was “first stage, a symbolic act of development of Russian-Georgian relations.”
Burjanadze said in her opening remarks that steps should be undertaken to normalize relations between the two countries.
"I agree with you, that unfortunately in recent years Russian-Georgian relations have actually dropped to a tragic deadlock," she told Putin. "But I want to hope that it is possible to find a way out from this deadlock. I am more than sure, that it is not only in the interests of Georgia to normalize relations between our two peoples. Normal relations between Georgia and Russia is needed for peaceful development of the entire region and for our peoples."
"I am sure, that it will be possible to find ways in order to make relations even. It won't be easy and we understand it very well, but steps should be made in this direction."
"I am absolutely sure, that normal relations with Russia is in the interest of my people, of my state, as well as in the interest of your people and of your state. So it should be done. It is a duty of each citizen, especially of those who are involved in politics. I think that steps, which will ease the fate of ordinary people in this difficult situation, should be undertaken."
"I believe that all the difficult issues, which persist in Russo-Georgian relations, should be discussed openly and based on mutuel respect and mutual trust," she added.
Burjanadze is a second Georgian politician, after Zurab Nogaideli, ex-PM and leader of Movement for Fair Georgia, to meet with Russia’s PM after the August war.
“I am occupied by big politics; while others are occupied with mayoral elections and the authorities are occupied by carrying out black PR campaign against the opposition, I am doing big politics,” Nino Burjanadze told journalists before departure to Moscow on March 3.
Like in case of Nogaideli, the ruling party lawmakers described Burjanadze’s move as “collaborationism” and “treason”.
“Everything is very clear – like in case of Nogaideli, Mrs. Burjanadze is also seeking allies in Moscow in struggle against own country… These people, who think that they are ‘doing big politics’, are instead committing small treason; but they have no powerbase in Georgia,” MP Giorgi Gabashvili of the ruling party said on March 4.
Ex-PM Nogaideli, whose party signed a cooperation agreement with Russia’s ruling party, welcomed Burjanadze’s decision to visit Moscow.
“It is very important that Nino Burjanadze has slightly changed her previous stance in respect of Russia, when she was saying that dialogue with Russia was needed, but with certain preconditions. You know she was saying that at first Georgia’s de-occupation should take place. But now we have all seen that no one is in fact afraid of our preconditions. The dialogue is needed to create a chance of de-occupation and of reunification,” Nogaideli said.
Conservative Party and Party of People, which have recently launched close cooperation with the Nogaideli’s party, also welcomed Burjanadze’ visit.
“This is a very brave step. I am sure that participation of such a serious diplomat and politician like Nino Burjanadze, will only contribute to normalization of Georgian-Russian relations,” Zviad Dzidziguri, leader of Conservative Party, said.
“I am sure Mrs. Burjanadze is in Moscow to find ways for Georgia’s reunification – the same reason why Mr. Nogaideli visited Moscow,” Koba Davitashvili, leader of Party of People, said.