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8 May, 2009 09:30

Medvedev congratulates Georgia's World War II veterans

The war in South Ossetia worsened the long-running animosity between Moscow and Tbilisi. But President Medvedev put aside the wider politics and congratulated Georgians who fought in the Soviet army during World War Two.

The relations between the two countries are at their worst, but they knew better times. Russia and Georgia share one history and one religion. Georgia used to be a part of the Soviet Union and before that, part of the Russian Empire.

In his congratulations, President Medvedev brought up an interesting fact that every Russian knows from school – among the soldiers who raised a flag over the Reichstag building in Berlin was a Georgian soldier. And this is one of the greatest symbols of what Russians call the 'Great Patriotic War,' said President Medvedev.

“Our common historic legacy, the traditions of being good neighbors, and comradeship lay a solid foundation for the restoration of trust and rapport between the two peoples. The peoples, which have never been enemies. And although today’s intergovernmental relations between Russia and Georgia are being seriously tested, to this day there still are direct human contacts and cooperation in the field of cultural NGOs, as strong as ever are the ties of the Russian and Georgian Orthodox Churches,” said the President.

Indeed, for the past five years the relations between Moscow and Tbilisi have gone dramatically wrong, and there is hardly one month when Georgia is not revealing an alleged conspiracy plot masterminded by Moscow or Moscow accusing Tbilisi of another provocation. But there were attempts to improve the relations between the neighbors, and these attempts were made not by the leaders of the states, but by the church.

In 2007, Patriach Ilya the Second of All Georgia came to Russia for negotiations with Aleksy the Second of All Russia. The visit was certainly symbolic and was widely covered both by Georgian and Russian media. And last December, Ilya the Second came to Russia for the funeral of Aleksy the Second. This was also seen as a symbolic gesture.

Many hope that if the leadership of the states cannot improve the relations, the peoples of the two countries will.