Russia said it was “disappointed” by Tbilisi’s refusal to restore diplomatic relations with Moscow, a deputy spokesperson of the Russian Foreign Ministry said on March 12.
“In response to our proposal to restore diplomatic relations, the Georgian side has once again put forth preconditions, in particular reversing formal recognition of Abkhazia and South Ossetia [by Russia]. As a result, Tbilisi has no intention to revise its decision about cutting of diplomatic relations with Russia,” Maria Zakharova, deputy spokesperson of the Russian Foreign Ministry, said in a comment posted on the ministry’s website.
“Russia’s March 2 initiative, which could have really fostered normalization of relations, has been declined [by Tbilisi]. It causes disappointment, but it was hardly a surprise for anyone,” she added.
The Georgian authorities responded Moscow’s proposal to restore diplomatic ties by its long-standing position on the matter, saying it was impossible while Moscow was also maintaining its “illegally opened so called embassies” in Georgia’s breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia – the position shared by major opposition forces in Georgia.
In its statement on March 2 the Russian Foreign Ministry also said in response to Georgia's unilateral lift of visa requirements for Russian citizens, that it was ready to reciprocate, but called on Tbilisi to revise its law on occupied territories. Tbilisi responded that if Russia really wanted to lift visa requirement it should reciprocate without setting preconditions and lift visa rules for Georgian citizens unilaterally as Tbilisi did.
The Russian Foreign Ministry’s deputy spokesperson also said on March 12, that it was the case when lifting of visa rules should be done “based on formal bilateral agreements.” She also said that Georgia was not also providing any guarantee of security for those Russian citizens who might face criminal charges while arriving in Georgia just because of visiting Abkhazia or South Ossetia. She was referring to the provision of the law which makes it illegal in Georgia to enter into breakaway Abkhazia and South Ossetia from territories other than those controlled by Tbilisi; the law also sets whole set of exceptions to this rule. Violation of the law can result into a fine or a jail term from two to four years.