Interfax: Diplomatic relations can’t be restored as long as Moscow recognizes Abkhazia, South Ossetia – minister

Tblisi, Georgia, File Photo with Building with Tower on Hillside and City Buildings in Valley in Distance

TBILISI. Jan 21 (Interfax) – Diplomatic relations with Russia cannot be restored as long as 20% of the Georgian territory is occupied and Moscow recognizes the independence of two Georgian regions, Georgian Foreign Minister Maia Panjikidze told reporters on Tuesday.

She made her comment on the opinion of Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov who said Georgia’s refusal to recognize the new regional realities was hindering the restoration of full-fledged relations between Moscow and Tbilisi.

“We are restoring a normal relationship with Russia only on the condition of preservation of “the red lines” and fundamental principles of the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Georgia. Relations with Russia will not normalize if these principles are violated,” Panjikidze said.

Georgia tried to normalize economic and humanitarian relations with Russia last year and “succeeded in doing so,” she said.

In turn, Georgian State Minister for Reintegration Paata Zakareishvili told reporters he welcomed Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov’s words about the resumed economic and humanitarian cooperation and Georgia was prepared to assist in the provision of security at the Olympic Games in Sochi.

“Concerning the statement by Mr. Lavrov on the new realities, they truly exist and lie in the fact that Russia no longer can be involved in the peacekeeping processes as the side of aggressor and invader. I cannot imagine the restoration of diplomatic relations with Russia as long as there are Russian Embassies in Sukhumi and Tskhinvali and Russia does not revoke its recognition of Georgian regions as independent states,” Zakareishvili said.

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