Moscow has offered Tbilisi its assistance in evacuating Georgian citizens from Syria, according to Georgian and Russian officials.
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister, Grigory Karasin, said that he spoke via phone with Georgian PM’s special envoy for relations with Russia, Zurab Abashidze, on Tuesday and offered him that Georgian citizens, willing to leave Syria, can use for this purpose Russian Emergency Ministry’s planes which, he said, regularly conduct flights into Syria for the purpose of delivering humanitarian aid.
“We’ve learned from media reports that about twenty Georgian citizens are now in Syria who are not able to leave the country and return back to their homeland. So in the spirit of good neighborhood and good will we offered that if these people have problems with return, they can apply to our embassy [in Syria],” Karasin told RIA Novosti news agency on September 4.
He said that it was Moscow’s initiative to make such an offer and no such request was made by Tbilisi.
“[Moscow] decided to extend a helping hand,” Karasin said. “We do not see anything special in this. It fully corresponds to the spirit of good neighborhood that we feel towards Georgia and the Georgian people.”
Earlier on the same day Georgia’s PM Bidzina Ivanishvili said that Tbilisi received a proposal from Russia to provide help to the Georgian citizens in Syria.
“I welcome it,” Ivanishvili said.
He mentioned it when speaking at a news conference about relations with Russia and brought this offer by Russia as an example of positive sign in bilateral relations.
“I think it shows positive stance on the part of Russia and there is no such stance that Russia wants to invade Georgia,” Ivanishvili said.
Georgian Foreign Minister, Maia Panjikidze, said this proposal by Moscow “is a very good gesture.”
Also on ties with Moscow, PM Ivanishvili said during the press conference on September 4 that Tbilisi “has a progress in relationship with Russia and today we have better situation” than it was before he came into government.
On situation in Syria, the Georgian PM said: “Developments in Syria is source of concern… The use of chemical weapon is especially alarming.”