Russian PM hopes to get back to before-crisis relations with Georgia

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin says he hopes Russian-Georgian relations will get back to a “normal level” while meeting with the Georgian opposition leader in Moscow.

On March 4 the Russian Prime Minister held a meeting with Nino Burdzhanadze, the leader of the Georgian opposition party “Democratic Movement – United Georgia.” She is the second Georgian opposition leader, after Zurab Nogaideli, who has visited Moscow. Burdzhanadze is considered to be one of the most radical opponents of President Saakashvili.

"Life is moving forward and I really hope that relying on those people, who want to have normal relations with Russia, we can restore our relationship to a before-crisis level,” said Putin.

“Unfortunately, over this time some very heavy dramatic events have happened between our countries. But you know our position, we are ready to develop relations with all political forces,” he added.

“Unfortunately, there are people in the Georgian political leadership who we could not build relations with. Moreover, in my opinion, as a result of their policy we had the tragedy a year and half ago,” Putin stated.

He also noted that just a few days ago a border control checkpoint between Russia and Georgia was opened. “I believe this is only the first, most probably symbolic, step in the development of the Russian-Georgian relationship,” Vladimir Putin asserted.

Burdzhanadze, for her part, said that in recent years Russian-Georgian relations “practically came to tragic dead end.” She expressed hope that it would be possible to find a way out of this situation.

Normal relations between Georgia and Russia are necessary for peaceful development of the region and both nations, Burdhznadze added.

Irina Kobrinskaya from the Institute of the World Economy and International Relations believes that the effect of this meeting may be dubious.

“On the one hand, this is a clear message to the opposition in Georgia and to the people of Georgia that Russia is open for constructive dialogue and restoring relations,” Kobrinskaya told RT. “On the other hand, the camp of President Saakashvili will be much irritated. So, in the near future relations may be even worse than they were before, because Saakashvili will interpret this meeting as an attempt to undermine his position.”