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Authorities Called to Negotiate Resumption of Flights with Russia
Civil Georgia, Tbilisi / 8 Mar.'10 / 17:28

Georgia will engage in talks with Russia through mediators on restoring direct flights if Moscow submits such request for talks, Nino Kalandadze, the Georgian deputy foreign minister, said.

Christian-Democratic Movement, a leading party in the parliamentary minority, called on the authorities on March 8 to start talks with the Russian side on resumption of direct air flights.

The Deputy Foreign Minister said that Tbilisi’s position about the resumption of flights was “positive.”

“The problem remains with the Russian side’s position. It was the Russian Federation, which has unilaterally ceased flights… There are all the possibilities for them [Russia] to appeal us [for talks],” Nino Kalandadze said.

She said that an agreement on reopening of the Zemo Larsi-Kazbegi border crossing point  between the two countries “is good precedent” of how issues of this kind can be resolved even in the condition of not having diplomatic relations. She said that like in case of border reopening talks, negotiations on resumption of direct flights could be held with the mediation of Switzerland.

With the diplomatic ties cut since the August war, Switzerland represents Russia's diplomatic interests in Georgia, as well as Georgia's diplomatic interests in Russia through respective countries’ interest sections in the Swiss embassies in Moscow and Tbilisi.

After allowing three charter flights in mid-January, Russia turned down the Georgian Airways’ request to resume regular flights saying that it was up to the aviation authorities of the two countries to negotiate the issue. The Russian Transport Ministry said it was up to Tbilisi to come out with the initiative to start talks.

“It [resumption of direct flights] is not a priority for Georgia; the priority is de-occupation of our territories,” Akaki Minashvili, a ruling party lawmaker who chairs parliamentary committee for foreign affairs, said on March 8.

Russia cut direct air flights with Georgia in October, 2006, following spy row between the two countries. The flights were restored in late March, 2008, but were again suspended after the August war.

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