Georgia hopes for restoration of trade with Russia

Georgian parliament vice speaker Zurab Abashidze expects that at the first stage of normalizing relations Tbilisi and Moscow will be able to restore trade, economic and cultural ties.

"The main and most difficult thing is the occupation of part of Georgian territory by the Russian side. But we think and this is a must for the Georgian people and state that we would start relations with Russia in trade and economy and also in the cultural sphere," he said to Interfax.

He recalled that with this purpose the head of the new Georgian government introduced the post of special representative for Georgian-Russian relations appointing an experienced diplomat, his namesake Zurab Abashidze, who has already held the first talks with Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Grigory Karasin.

According to the vice speaker, it is vital for the Georgian economy that Russia lift its embargo on Georgian products: wine, mineral water, etc. "Russia is a major nation with a big market for neighboring countries, so we should be establishing relations," he said.

Speaking of Russia's recognition of the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, he noted that the most important thing for Tbilisi is to establish a direct dialogue with the Abkhaz and Ossetians. "The authorities existing there depend solely on Russia. So willpower will be needed to start a conversation with our brothers - the Abkhaz and Ossetian," he felt.

Abashidze also said that with the new government Georgia will continue the course of accession to the European Union and NATO. "The change of power in Georgia implies the development of democratic institutions which is very important for us. We are ready to become full-fledged members of the EU and NATO, this is the choice of the Georgian people. We are preparing for that, hence we will try to do our 'homework' very thoroughly," he said.

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