Georgian MFA: Despite Russia's 'Destructive Policy' Tbilisi Seeks 'Normalization' of Ties

Despite Russia's "aggression" and its "persisting destructive policy directed against Georgia's independence and statehood", the Georgian government seeks "a gradual normalization" of bilateral ties, the Georgian Foreign Ministry said in a statement released on August 7 on the occasion of the fifth year anniversary of the war with Russia.


The statement says that despite of "certain degree of positive dynamic" in economic and humanitarian cooperation in recent months, "unfortunately, Moscow has further intensified its provocative policies aimed at destabilizing Georgia."


"Five years after the Russia's incursion into the sovereign territory of Georgia and its large-scale military aggression against the independent state on 7 August 2008, the Russian armed forces still continue the occupation of 20 percent of Georgia's territory in flagrant violation of the fundamental principles of international law, and deprive hundreds of thousands of victims of several waves of ethnic cleansing, including that of 2008, of their internationally recognized right to safe, dignified and voluntary return," the Georgian Foreign Ministry said.


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It said that instead of implementing provisions of the 2008 ceasefire agreement and pulling out of its troops to pre-war positions, Russia "reinforced its military bases, illegally deployed in Georgia's occupied regions, through installing heavy offensive equipment and increasing the number of military personnel."


The Foreign Ministry said five years after the Russia-Georgia August 2008 war the Georgian government's goal remains to resolve the conflict with Russia "in a peaceful manner through negotiations based on the principles of international law."


It, however, said that despite Georgia's "constructive position" in the Geneva talks, launched after the August war, Russia "has intensified its strategy aimed at undermining the Geneva International Discussions that further threatens the implementation of the 12 August 2008 Ceasefire Agreement."


In an interview with the Georgian television station, Rustavi 2, aired on August 6, Russia's PM Dmitry Medvedev said that the Geneva talks turned out to be "quite useful".


In its statement the Georgian Foreign Ministry also lists steps, which the country's previous and current governments have undertaken as part of the efforts aimed at "gradual normalization of relations with the Russian Federation, based on the principle of sovereignty and territorial integrity of Georgia."


"In an effort to create conditions conducive to the de-escalation of tensions with Moscow, Georgia has undertaken a number of concrete, substantial initiatives: Tbilisi undertook an unilateral legally binding pledge not to use force to solve the conflict; removed barriers for Russia's membership in WTO; unilaterally abolished the visa requirements for citizens of the Russian Federation; refused to boycott the Sochi Olympic Games 2014; stated readiness for cooperation to ensure security of the Sochi Olympics; nominated a Special Representative on the Relations with the Russian Federation, reaffirming the political will and readiness to resume trade, economic, humanitarian and cultural relations with Russia," the Georgian Foreign Ministry said.


"Notwithstanding the certain degree of positive dynamic in the spheres of economic and humanitarian cooperation, unfortunately, Moscow has further intensified its provocative policies aimed at destabilizing Georgia," the statement reads. "The Russian side reactivated the process of installation of barb-wire fences and embankments across the occupation line in the Tskhinvali and Abkhazia regions that are in full breach of public international law and represent human rights violations. The expansion of the area of occupation through installing fences and installations into the territory of Georgia clearly violate Georgia's sovereignty, territorial integrity and the inviolability of internationally recognized borders and are in flagrant violation of the 12 August Ceasefire Agreement. Moreover, Russia, as an occupying power, exercising effective control over the Abkhazia and Tskhinvali regions of Georgia, bears responsibility under international law to respect the fundamental rights and freedoms of the population residing on the occupied territories."


On so called ‘borderisation' process across administrative boundary lines of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, Medvedev told Rustavi 2 TV that this question should be directed to the authorities in Abkhazia and South Ossetia as such decisions were not taken in the Kremlin.


On the issue of return of refugees and internally displaced persons, Medvedev said it was "not Russia's problem" and Georgia should seek solution of this issue through a direct dialogue with the authorities in Abkhazia and South Ossetia.


The Georgian Foreign Ministry said that the Georgian government "strives to restore confidence and trust between the people divided by the war, re-engage them in common endeavors and restore day-to-day relations."


It said that building of the independent and democratic state "is the most effective... way to achieve prosperous future for the reunited Georgia."


"Despite the existing serious challenges, Georgia firmly stands on its course towards the European and Euro-Atlantic integration and spares no efforts to realize the aspiration of the Georgian people," the Foreign Ministry said.