Ready to rebuild Georgia ties - Russia
“It is obvious that the Georgian society voted for a change. We hope that eventually these changes would allow Georgia to proceed with normalization and establishing of constructive and respectful relations with its neighbors,” Aleksandr Lukashevich said. “Russia would only welcome such developments.”The official noted that the results of the parliamentary elections in Georgia are the voters’ assessment of the social and political state of the country, the situation with democracy and Human Rights, and also the politics of the previous Georgian administration regarding security issues in the South Caucasus.The comment was published after it was reported that the opposition coalition Georgian Dream had won the parliamentary elections, putting an end to Mikhail Saakashvili’s party rule of almost nine years. It was a time during which the country went through radical reforms, but also managed to engage in the 2008 war with the neighboring republic of South Ossetia.Russia had to interfere in that conflict under its peacekeeping obligations. This interference quickly led to Georgia’s defeat and Russia recognized South Ossetia as an independent state, along with another breakaway republic, Abkhazia. After this Georgia severed diplomatic relations with Russia and the two countries still only conduct negotiations by proxy of Switzerland.Another top Russian diplomat has said he hoped that Georgia would radically change its attitude to the 2014 Olympics in the Russian city of Sochi. Extraordinary Ambassador Vladimir Kuzmin told reporters that the Foreign Ministry was working to restore the relations with Georgia as soon as possible and added that the change of rhetoric from the Georgian side on the Sochi Olympics would be a great contribution to such normalization. Previously, Georgia harshly opposed Russia’s plans to host 2014 winter Olympics in Sochi citing historical reasons and security concerns. However, an Abkhazian official stated that it was too early to expect radical changes in Georgia’s foreign policy. Secretary of the Abkhazian Public Chamber, Natella Akaba told reporters that such illusions were dangerous and the peaceful statements by the leader of the Georgian Dream, Bidzina Ivanishvili, were very much like Saakashvili’s assurances to the peoples of Abkhazia and South Ossetia before he became president in 2004. “We all know the worth of such statements and their consequences, the events of August 2008 are the proof to this,” Akaba said. If Georgia finds the strength to recognize Abkhazia’s independence, mutual relations between the states can be discussed further, she added. The opposition coalition Georgian Dream won the Monday parliamentary elections in Georgia with 55 per cent of votes, defeating President Mikhail Saakashvili’s United National Movement, which managed only 40 percent. This is according to preliminary results released by Georgian authorities on Wednesday after over 97 per cent of ballots were counted.Saakashvili remains president, although his role will be somewhat diminished by recent changes to the constitution apportioning more power to the prime minister. An opposition figure holding the PM’s post will only weaken the president’s position.Georgian Dream’s leader, Bidzina Ivanishvili is a billionaire businessman with most of his assets located in Russia. In his elections program he had repeatedly stated that the normalization of relations with Russia is a key priority in his planned political course. Currently a French citizen, Ivanishvili is seeking to restore his Georgian passport in order to assume the post of prime minister.