Five Years After The War, South Caucasus Still Caught Between Russia, The West

Map of Azerbaijan and South Caucasus Environs Including Portions of Armenia, Georgia, Russia, Iran, Caspian Sea

(RFE/RL – rferl.org – Robert Coalson – August 7, 2013) Azerbaijan is arming to the teeth. Armenia is growing increasingly disillusioned with Russia, its main protector. And the potential for armed conflict in the breakaway Nagorno-Karabakh region appears higher than it has been in years. The increased tensions surrounding the Armenian-controlled separatist enclave inside Azerbaijan — where there have been […]

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TRANSCRIPT: Dmitry Medvedev’s interview to Russia Today TV channel

Map of Georgia

(Government.ru – Gorki, August 4, 2013) Dmitry Medvedev is interviewed by Russia Today correspondent Oksana Boyko on the events in August 2008 and consequences of the Georgian-South Ossetian conflict. The interview was recorded on July 24, 2013. Oksana Boyko: Mr Medvedev, thank you for your time… Now that it’s been five years, the international community has all but forgotten this […]

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Russia had no intention to occupy Tbilisi, topple Saakashvili in Aug 2008 – Medvedev

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

(Interfax – MOSCOW, Aug 4, 2013) The Russian government had no intention to occupy Tbilisi and topple the Mikheil Saakashvili regime in its peace enforcement operation against Georgia in August 2008, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said. “As the Supreme Commander in Chief I never gave an order to enter Tbilisi, change their political regime and execute Saakashvili,” Medvedev, the […]

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Georgian Culture Ministry Denies Agreeing To Return of Stalin Statue

File Photo of Vladimir Lenin and Joseph Stalin

(RIA Novosti – TBILISI, July 31, 2013) ­ Georgia’s Culture Ministry said Wednesday it did not authorize the reinstallation of the six-meter (20 foot) statue of Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin that was torn down overnight three years ago in his hometown of Gori. The Gruziya Online website reported Tuesday that the ministry had decided to re-erect the landmark statue outside […]

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Saakashvili plans to stay in Georgian politics

Mikheil Saakashvili file photo

(Interfax  – TBILISI, July 18, 2013) Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili plans to continue his political career in Georgia after his second presidential term expires. “Georgia is a very small country, where the same recognizable persons will always continue replacing each other. Obviously, no one will disappear, and all of these people will be present in the government and in politics,” […]

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Georgian Wine Comes Back to Russia

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

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Lena Smirnova – July 12, 2013) It was meant to be a triumphant comeback that would patch up sour diplomatic relations between former Soviet republics and satisfy Russia’s thirst for quality wine. But following a six-year ban from the country, Georgian wines are facing an uphill battle in the market and experts say they are […]

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Over half of Georgians dub Russia as enemy, 30% call it friend – poll

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

(Interfax – TBILISI, June 28, 2013) Fifty-seven percent of Georgians have dubbed Russia as an enemy in a poll the International Republican Institute (IRI) held in Georgia. Thirty percent said Russia was a friend, IRI reported on Thursday. The United States is also on the enemy list, although 41% of Georgians call it a friend. Six percent of the respondents […]

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Georgians Want to Reinstate Relations with Russia – Poll

Map of Georgia

(RIA Novosti -TBILISI, June 28, 2013) Eighty two percent of Georgians spoke in favor of restoring relations with Russia, while 11 percent said relations should be reinstated partly, a poll conducted by the International Republican Institute (IRI) said on Friday. Russia and Georgia severed diplomatic ties after Moscow recognized de-facto independent Georgian republics of Abkhazia and South Ossetia as independent […]

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Ivanishvili doesn’t regard Georgia’s accession to NATO threat to Russia

NATO Meeting file photo

(Interfax – TBILISI, June 26, 2013) Georgian Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili has said that Georgia’s accession to NATO is a choice of the Georgian people and it does not matter whether Russia likes it or not. At a joint press conference with NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen Ivanishvili answered the question about how Georgia intends to improve relations with […]

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After Years Of Secret Tapes, Georgia Mulls How To Destroy Them

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

(RFE/RL – rferl.org – Nona Mchedlishvili – June 17, 2013) How do you make a secret disappear? That’s the question Georgian officials and activists are mulling as they consider a stash of legally dubious phone and video recordings made by the Interior Ministry, mainly under the rule of President Mikheil Saakashvili. The current Interior Minister Irakli Garibashvili has pledged to […]

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Georgian wine starts flowing across Russian border

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

(Business New Europe – bne.eu – June 17, 2013) A Georgian vintner exported its first shipment of wine to Russia in seven years on June 14, as the lifting of Moscow’s ban on wine imports from its small southern neighbour is finally sealed. The Dugladze winery announced that it had delivered an initial shipment of 30 bottles, which will be […]

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Georgia ready to take steps toward normalizing relations with Russia – official

Georgia Map

(Interfax – TBILISI, June 12, 2013) Georgia is ready to make steps aimed at normalizing relations with Russia, says special prime ministerial envoy for relations with Russia Zurab Abashidze. “Tbilisi has closely studied Russian President Vladimir Putin’s statement he made yesterday,” and this statement contains “an interesting viewpoint and judgments regarding a dialogue between Georgia and Russia, which is already […]

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Tbilisi says supplies of Georgian wine to Russia to resume next week

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

(Interfax – TBILISI, June 6, 2013) A first batch of Georgian wine will be sent to Russia next week, Head of the National Wine Agency of the Georgia Agriculture Ministry, Levan Davitashvili, said at a briefing on Thursday. “Two Georgian wine enterprises have already received Russian excise stamps and plan to begin supplying their products to Russia next week,” Davitashvili […]

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Why Georgia Still Matters; re: 2013-#98-Johnson’s Russia List/Adomanis

Map of Georgia

From: “Hamilton, Robert E COL USARMY (US)” <robert.e.hamilton.mil@mail.mil> Subject: RE: 2013-#98-Johnson’s Russia List/Adomanis Date: Thu, 30 May 2013 I’m attaching a short piece I wrote recently on the political transition underway in Georgia.  It is scheduled to go up on the website of the Georgian Foundation for Strategic and International Studies (GFSIS) in the near future.  I decided to send […]

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First batches of Georgia’s Borzhomi mineral water arrive in Russia

Map of Georgia

(Interfax – MOSCOW, May 22, 2013) Georgia has resumed exports of Borzhomi mineral water to Russia after a long-term pause. “On May 22, two trucks with Georgian mineral water Borzhomi were cleared at the Mamontovo customs office of the Moscow region customs of the Central Customs Department. The vehicles came from Georgia and went to suppliers in Moscow stores after […]

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Saakashvili administration criticizes investigation into 2008 war

Map of Georgia

(Interfax – TBILISI, May 16, 2013) The Georgian presidential administration believes the investigation into the 2008 war and the attempts to accuse the previous government of Georgia increase the risk of South Ossetia and Abkhazia being recognized as different countries. “The attitude adopted by the new administration may lead to a catastrophic result for our country, and responsibility for it […]

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Interfax: Georgia intends to return lost territories peacefully – Ivanishvili

Map of Georgia

(Interfax – TBILISI, May 15, 2013) Georgia will do everything to restore relations with “the big neighbor”, Georgian Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili said in an interview with Euronews TV company reported partially by local mass media outlets on Wednesday. “The current state of the relations between Georgia and Russia is not in anybody’s interests. Georgia lost 20% of its territory […]

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Saakashvili compares his political opponents to Caligula

Mikheil Saakashvili file photo

(Interfax – TBILISI, May 12, 2013) Commenting on the nomination of the presidential candidate from the ruling coalition Georgian Dream, Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili recalled an old joke about Roman Emperor Caligula who made his horse a senator. Georgian Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili earlier said the presidential candidate from Georgian Dream will be Giorgy Margvelashvili, deputy prime minister and education […]

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US Backs Georgia’s NATO, EU Ambitions – Kerry

NATO Meeting file photo

(RIA Novosti – WASHINGTON, May 1, 2013) ­ US Secretary of State John Kerry said Wednesday that Washington supports Georgia’s aspirations to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), ambitions that Moscow has repeatedly warned will only inflame tensions in the South Caucasus. “We are very supportive of Georgia’s aspirations with respect to NATO and Europe,” Kerry said ahead of […]

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Georgia Confirms No Olympic Boycott

File Photo of Sochi Olympics Banner Near Highway in Warm Weather with Vehicle and Cyclicsts Nearby

(RIA Novosti – TBILISI, May 2, 2013) Georgia will not boycott next year’s Winter Olympics in the Russian city of Sochi after the country’s National Olympic Committee voted unanimously Thursday in favor of taking part. The question of a boycott has repeatedly arisen in Georgia as a result of the 2008 war with host national Russia. The two countries still […]

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Tbilisi gives conditions to establish diplomatic ties with Moscow

Tblisi, Georgia, file photo

(Interfax – TBILISI, April 29, 2013) Georgia will not establish diplomatic ties with Russia while 20% of its territory is occupied, Georgian Foreign Minister Maya Pandzhanikidze told reporters on Monday. “While 20 percent of the Georgian territories are occupied by Russia, establishing diplomatic ties is impossible. Another reason is that Russia recognizes two Georgian regions as independent states. Until this […]

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Georgian Defense Minister Irakli Alasania: ‘We Need To Outsmart Russia’

Map of Georgia

(RFE/RL – rferl.org – April 27, 2013) Irakli Alasania served as Georgia’s UN ambassador before resigning in late 2008 and joining the opposition to President Mikheil Saakashvili. He is now defense minister in Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili’s coalition government. RFE/RL correspondent Brian Whitmore caught up with Alasania in Tbilisi to discuss the new government’s approach to Russia. RFE/RL: Since the new […]

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Georgia’s Changing Russia Policy

Map of Georgia

(RFE/RL – rferl.org – Brian Whitmore – April 29, 2013) TBILISI – Georgian Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili says resolving his country’s conflicts with Russia is his “big dream.” But it’s a dream that has him locked in a war of words with President Mikheil Saakashvili and his allies. Saakashvili slammed Ivanishvili on April 23 for saying, in remarks to the […]

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Georgian minister blames Saakashvili for prompting Russia to recognize S. Ossetia, Abkhazia

Georgia Map

(Interfax – TBILISI. April 17, 2013) Georgian State Minister for Reintegration Paata Zakareishvili has accused President Mikheil Saakashvili for provoking Russia into occupying the territories of Abkhazia and South Ossetia and then recognizing their independence. “For instance, in line with international agreements, Georgia did not have the right to deploy its troops in the Kodori Gorge of Abkhazia controlled by […]

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Georgian parliamentarian slams Saakashvili recollection of U.S. role in August 2008 war

Mikheil Saakashvili file photo

(Interfax – TBILISI. April 17, 2013) A member of the Georgian parliamentary majority harshly criticized some of President Mikheil Saakashvili’s recollections of details of the August 2008 war with Russia over South Ossetia in an interview shown on Rustavi-2 television. “Saakashvili’s statement that the United States considered the possibility of bombarding the Roki Tunnel during the August war will certainly […]

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Ivanishvili and Coalition Partners Threaten to Incriminate Georgia over 2008 Russian Invasion (Part Two)

Georgia Map

(Eurasia Daily Monitor: Volume 10, Issue 72 – Jamestown Foundation – jamestown.org – Vladimir Socor – April 17, 2013) Georgia’s Prosecutor-General Archil Kbilashvili (formerly a legal counsel to the current Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili), Justice Minister Tea Tsulukiani (who does not have a formal degree in law), Georgian Dream parliamentary majority leader Davit Saganelidze, and Defense Minister Irakli Alasania are […]

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Saakashvili Wants Improvement in Relations with Russia

Mikheil Saakashvili file photo

(RIA Novosti – TBILISI, April 17, 2013) Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili said on Tuesday he was not against mending diplomatic relations with Russia that were severed several years ago. “I am one of those supporting the improvement of these relations. It was my initiative to lift the visa regime with Russia so that more Russian tourists could visit Georgia,” Saakashvili […]

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Saakashvili untouchable, cannot be forced to be questioned on 2008 war – Georgia’s chief prosecutor

Mikheil Saakashvili file photo

(Interfax – TBILISI. April 16, 2013) If Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili does not want to be questioned on the South Ossetian-Georgian conflict in August 2008, then he cannot be, Georgia’s chief prosecutor Archil Kbilashvili said. “The president is untouchable and there are no judicial mechanisms which would permit him to be interrogated,” Kbilashvili told reporters on Tuesday. Georgian Prime Minister […]

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Most Georgians approve of planned resumption of wine exports to Russia – poll

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

(Interfax – TBILISI, April 15, 2013) A vast majority of Georgians approve of the government’s plan to resume exports of wine, mineral water and agricultural produce to Russia, an opinion poll suggests. Current Georgian-Russian talks on the resumption of such exports were acceptable to 84% of respondents and unacceptable to only 3% of respondents in a recent survey by the […]

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Song and Dance Patch Up Georgian-Russian Relations

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

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Alexander Bratersky – April 12, 2013) As Russia’s relationship with Georgia warms up after the new Georgian Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili assumed power in Tbilisi, Moscow will host its long awaited Georgian guest, the famous Rustavi ensemble. Rustavi, a folk dance and chorus group, will perform in Russia on Thursday after a 10-year absence. “We […]

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Russia Ready to Expand Ties with Georgia – FM Lavrov

Georgia Map

(RIA Novosti – MOSCOW, April 11, 2013) Russia likes the Georgian government’s pragmatism and is ready to expand ties with the South Caucasus country, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has said. “The pragmatism with which Bidzina Ivanishvili’s government addresses [bilateral] relations appeals to us,” Lavrov told Russian television channel RTVi. “We are ready to expand not only trade… but also […]

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Protected by Russia, Abkhazia Cautiously Engages Georgia

Georgia Map

(Voice of America – James Brooke – April 11, 2013) A foreign correspondent who has reported from five continents, Brooke, known universally as Jim, is the Voice of America bureau chief for Russia and former Soviet Union countries. From his base in Moscow, Jim roams Russia and Russia’s southern neighbors. In the aftermath of the 2008 Russia-Georgia war, Russia recognized […]

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Georgian Premier Seeks to Probe Saakashvili Over 2008 Russia War

Mikheil Saakashvili file photo

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Helena Bedwell – April 10, 2013) Georgian Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili wants to question President Mikheil Saakashvili over the country’s five-day war with Russia in 2008, a probe that may lead to legal proceedings against Saakashvili. The president and the government “acted inadequately” and the Georgian army acted before Russian forces crossed the border during the […]

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Majority of Georgian wine, farm products to return to Russia by June – minister

Georgia Map

(Interfax – TBILISI, April 8, 2013) The return of Georgian wine, mineral water, fruit, vegetables and other produce to Russia is going successfully and supplies might resume by June, Georgian Minister of Agriculture David Kirvalidze said at a briefing on Monday. “We have stepped forward in both directions,” Kirvalidze said when commenting on the second inspection the Russian consumer rights […]

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Chechen separatist emissary: Saakashvili men trained Chechen militants to be sent to Russia

Map of European Portion of Former Soviet Union

(Interfax – TBILISI, April 4, 2013) Akhmed Zakayev, formerly known as a Chechen separatist emissary, has accused Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili’s entourage of arming and training a group of Chechen saboteurs and planning to send them to Russia in 2012. “People from Saakashvili’s inner circle brought a group of Chechens from Europe, organized their training, provided them with weapons and […]

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EVENT: Kennan Institute Caucasus Railroads and Pipelines Conference April 2, 9:30AM-2PM

Woodrow Wilson Center Facade file photo

From: “Ariel Cohen” <Ariel.Cohen@heritage.org> Subject: INVITATION: Kennan Institute Caucasus Railroads and Pipelines Conference April 2, 9:30AM-2PM Date: Tue, 26 Mar 2013 Dear Friends: I am honored to invite you to the following event, at which I co-chair a panel. If you do not live in the Washington, D.C. area, our apologies. Feel free to forward to your friends in the […]

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Over 80% of Georgian citizens welcome dialogue with Russia – Abashidze

Georgia Map

TBILISI,. March 15 (Interfax) – Georgian citizens welcome the government’s steps to normalize relations with Russia, said the Georgian prime minister’s special envoy for Russia Zurab Abashidze. “More than 80% of Georgian citizens polled support the process of finding a way out of the impasse in relations with Russia, and creating a more positive atmosphere in them, which is actually […]

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NEWSLINK: Russia & Georgia: Wine-Tasting

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

[Russia & Georgia: wine tasting – Financial Times – Isabel Gorst – March 7, 2013 – http://blogs.ft.com/beyond-brics/2013/03/06/russia-georgia-wine-tasting/] The Financial Times covers preparations to lift Russia’s ban on Georgian wine and mineral water imports, as the two countries look towards trade as an initial foundation for improved relations: Sanitary inspectors in Russia look set to lift a ban on Georgian wine […]

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Russia in the Caucasus

Kremlin and St. Basil's

(International Relations and Security Network (ISN) – www.isn.ethz.ch – Aglaya Snetkov for the ISN – February 25, 2013) Aglaya Snetkov is a senior researcher at the Center for Security Studies (CSS). Despite the attempts by Western powers to penetrate the Caucasus, Russia continues to exert unmatched influence over the region. In today’s Questions and Answers presentation, the CSS’ Aglaya Snetkov […]

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No Talks on Georgia’s Breakaway Republics – Moscow

Georgia Map

MOSCOW, February 25 (RIA Novosti) – Moscow reiterated its position on the normalization of ties with Tbilisi on Monday, saying it was not ready to discuss the issue of the breakaway republics of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, despite a move toward improved relations between the two sides. Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Grigory Karasin reiterated Russia’s interest in normalizing its ties […]

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Georgia as Russia’s Future Asset

Georgia Map

(RIA Novosti – Fyodor Lukyanov – February 14, 2013) Fyodor Lukyanov is Editor-in-Chief of the Russia in Global Affairs journal ­ an authoritative source of expertise on Russian foreign policy and global developments – http://eng.globalaffairs.ru] Georgia has most likely entered the final stage of its political transformation. The next few weeks will show whether President Mikheil Saakashvili, whose term ends […]

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Sixty-nine Georgian wine, mineral water firms apply for exports to Russia

Georgia Map

MOSCOW. Feb 12 (Interfax) – A total of 69 Georgian wine and mineral water producers have applied to export product to Russia, Russian consumer safety watchdog Rospotrebnadzor said. “All of the documents received have been forwarded to Rospotrebnadzor experts for study. Priority will be given to those 31 organizations that have submitted information for the documentary check in full. The […]

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Georgia-Russia: Hostile Forever? As new administration seeks thaw with Moscow, president’s people want pro-West, anti-Russia clauses written into constitution.

Georgia Map

(Caucasus Reporting Service – Issue 674 – IWPR Institute for War & Peace Reporting – iwpr.net – Sofo Bukia) From: “IWPR Institute for War & Peace Reporting” <mailing@iwpr.net> Subject: Caucasus Reporting Service – Issue 674 Date: Tue,  5 Feb 2013 Despite their election defeat last October, President Mikhail Saakashvili’s political allies want the Georgian constitution to be changed to force […]

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Georgian Wine Could Be Allowed by Spring, Onishchenko Says

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

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Nikolaus von Twickel – February 5, 2013) Georgian wine and mineral water could return to Russian store shelves as early as this spring, Russia’s chief sanitary official said Monday. Moscow will send teams of sanitary inspectors to facilities in Georgia, Gennady Onishchenko told reporters. If they approve local quality levels, producers can register in Russia […]

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Russians becoming more favorable to Georgia, Ukraine and Belarus – poll

Map of European Portion of Former Soviet Union

MOSCOW. Jan 30 (Interfax) – The attempts of the new Georgian authorities to improve relations with Russia have affected the attitudes of Russians toward that country, sociological studies indicate. Presently, the number of positive comments on Georgia exceeds the number of negative, sociologists from the Levada Center told Interfax on Wednesday. Thus, while in January last year 36% of Russians […]

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Georgia vows to keep seeking EU, NATO membership

NATO Meeting file photo

TALLINN. Jan 31 (Interfax) – Georgia’s foreign minister made assurances on Wednesday that her country would stick to its policy of seeking membership in the European Union and NATO. “Both for Estonia and for Georgia, joining the European Union is primarily a security issue, but, of course, it would help revise the Georgian economy as well,” an Estonian government statement […]

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Georgia’s new govt looks to press “reset” in Russia relations

Georgia Map

(Business New Europe – www.bne.eu – Molly Corso in Tbilisi – January 31, 2013) In power for just three months, the government of Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili appears to have struck gold in economic relations with Russia: officials in Moscow have tentatively given the green light to resuming Georgian wine and mineral water imports, reopening a major market for Georgian […]

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Georgia-Russia Relations Warming

Tblisi, Georgia, file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Nikolaus von Twickel – January 25, 2013) A cocktail-party chat that lasted only minutes has triggered hopes that the country’s troubled relations with Georgia might be headed for substantial recovery. Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev had a conversation with his Georgian counterpart, Bidzina Ivanishvili, during a reception at the Davos World Economic Forum late Wednesday, Medvedev’s […]

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Moscow-Tbilisi relations will improve if Russia changes its Caucasus policy – Georgian president

Georgia Map

STRASBOURG. Jan 22 (Interfax) – Problems facing Russian-Georgian relations could be resolved easily if Moscow agreed to give up its “territorial claims”, Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili said. “Russia ought to give up its imperial ambitions, its territorial claims, and Georgia should rebuild its territorial integrity,” he said at the winter session of the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly (PACE) in […]

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Saakashvili accuses Ivanishvili team of looking to Russia

Georgia Map

TBILISI. Jan 12 (Interfax) – Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili has accused Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili of an attempt to change Georgia’s foreign policy. At the ceremony for introducing the new governors, which was held in the presidential palace on Saturday, Saakashvili said Ivanishvili in his recent interview had said that he had to “repel” the attacks of the Western world […]

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