Georgia ready to start resuming dialogue with Russia despite radical differences - official

Georgia believes it is necessary to start resuming dialogue with Russia despite radical disagreements regarding Abkhazia's and South Ossetia's status.

"We believe we should look for common interests without preconditions, especially such that rule out the possibility of dialogue. We are sure that the settlement of problems between Georgia and Russia are in the interests of our states and peoples," Zurab Abashidze, the Georgian special prime ministerial envoy for normalization of relations with Russia, said in a statement.

Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said recently that Moscow would be prepared for cooperation with the new Georgian leadership if it takes into consideration Russia's decisions on recognizing Abkhazia's and South Ossetia's independence. "This is not the easiest way, but Russia has always said that we are prepared for dialogue with the new Georgian leadership, but, certainly, taking into account the existing geopolitical realities and decisions on recognizing Abkhazia and South Ossetia, which Russia has made," Medvedev said in an interview published in Kommersant.

In commenting on these remarks, Abashidze said, "Among the top priorities for the Georgian government is predictable, pragmatic, and conscientious relationship with Russia."

"At the same time, it is a fact that Georgia and Russia have radical differences on the August 2008 war and its consequences, in particular, Russia's recognition of Georgian territories as independent states. This yet again calls for resuming dialogue," he said.

Abashidze welcomed Medvedev's position on possible intergovernmental cooperation in the humanitarian, cultural, and trade-economic fields.

Medvedev noted in his interview with Kommersant, "I do not see any problem with restoring humanitarian cooperation. Planes fly [between Georgia and Russia], thank God, contacts between people are continuing, cultural ties have remained in place, and trade-economic relations can also be restored."

The Russian authorities are closely following messages coming from Georgia, he said.

"I said once that the only person with whom I am not prepared to sit at the same table is Mikheil Saakashvili. He started the war and committed a crime. This is a crime primarily before the Georgian people and other peoples of whose deaths he is guilty," Medvedev said when asked whether he is willing to meet with Georgian Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili.

The new Georgian premier belongs to a different generation of politicians, Medvedev said. "Let's look at his real steps. Some signals are coming from there that it would be good to establish contacts so far not at the diplomatic level, although I would like to point out that it was Georgia that severed diplomatic relations, not Russia. We will be attentive to these signals," he said.

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