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TBILISI: Georgia’s new Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili said yesterday he will not restore diplomatic ties with foe Russia until Moscow stops recognising two Georgian breakaway regions as independent.
“As far diplomatic (relations) are concerned, it can’t happen quickly,” Ivanishvili told a news conference. “There are Russian embassies in South Ossetia and Abkhazia, and Russia recognises their independence, there are other problems as well which need to be settled,” he said.
Moscow has stationed thousands of troops in the breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia since recognising them as independent after the Georgia-Russia war in 2008 -- a move that Tbilisi regards as occupation.
Ivanishvili said however that restoring trade and cultural links with Russia was a “more realistic” goal after his Georgian Dream coalition defeated President Mikheil Saakashvili’s party in a parliamentary election a month ago. Georgia and Russia have not had diplomatic relations since the brief 2008 war and the Kremlin refuses to have any dealings with Saakashvili.
Ivanishvili has repeatedly blamed Saakashvili for provoking the conflict which saw Russian troops push deep into Georgia to repel Tbilisi’s military attempt to seize back control over South Ossetia. AFP