Georgian residents want normalization of relations with Russia - Abashidze

The majority of Georgian residents demanded that the political force that won the recent parliamentary elections in the country normalize relations with Russia, which led to direct dialogue between Russia and Georgia in Switzerland last week, Zurab Abashidze, the Georgian prime minister's special representative on relations with Russia, said on Monday.

"We have made this step because our Western partners have called on us to normalize relations with Russia for many years. We have made this step because our region faces new challenges, whose destructive scale no one can predict yet. This dialogue can help us listen to each other and reach compromises," he said.

The negotiations with Russian First Deputy Foreign Minister Grigory Karasin, which took place last week, were positive, he said.

Abashidze did no rule out that similar meetings may be held once in every 2-3 months.

"We may reconsider the format of these negotiations and other persons may join them," Abashidze said.

Abashidze did not rule out that bilateral Georgian-Russian meetings may be held not only in Switzerland, but also in some other country.

"At this point, we consider humanitarian and trade-economic issues, but at some point we may address issues that concern us the most," Abashidze said.

Abashidze reiterated that bilateral negotiations will not replace the Geneva negotiation format on stability and security in the Caucasus, which involve Georgian, Abkhaz, and South Ossetian officials, as well as representatives of the U.S., Russia, and international organizations.

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