Georgia’s PM Irakli Garibashvili welcomed Russian President Vladimir Putin’s remarks that Moscow “might well go towards returning to the visa-free regime” with Georgia.
“I commend the readiness of the President of the Russian Federation to improve relations with Georgia,” Garibashvili said in a written statement released few hours after Putin’s remarks at his annual press conference on December 19. “At the initiative of the Georgian side, direct dialogue between Georgia and Russia was launched last year, having already brought about certain results in terms of restoring ties in practical fields.”
Direct dialogue, led by Georgian PM’s special envoy for relations with Russia, Zurab Abashidze, and Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister, Grigory Karasin, focuses mainly on trade relations, which led to Russia’s decision to allow Georgian products back on the Russian market.
“We want this dialogue to be continued and to step-by-step get closer to resolving difficult, sensitive issues. I think reconsideration of existing visa regime for the Georgian citizens by Russia – the issue on which the Russian President commented, will be a positive step in respect of fostering people-to-people contacts. I reiterated that there has always been and is benevolent attitude in Georgia towards the Russian people, which is indeed a solid foundation for future cooperation,” reads the statement of the Georgian PM.
“As far as the tragic events of recent history are concerned, we hold views different from those of Russia about the reasons and consequences of those developments. A voluminous and competent conclusion was drawn up about the August 2008 war by the so called ‘Tagliavini commission’, which was established under the auspices of the EU,” the statement reads.
The statement also says that recent progress in bilateral relations gives reason for “certain optimism.”
Commenting on Putin’s remarks, President Giorgi Margvelashvili said that Georgia’s current government is taking “all the necessary steps to de-escalate” long-standing tensions with Russia.
“In this respect, we are taking steps in all directions – there are effective results in terms of trade and cultural relations,” President Margvelashvili said and also added: “We are actively working on signing visa liberalization document with Europe. I think that if Georgia manages to meet European standards, it will apparently also meet Russian standards, if there is [Moscow’s] political will.”