Lilia Gumerova: Russia has always stood for normalization of contacts with Georgia
Russia is committed to dialogue, cooperation and solving even the most difficult problems in relations with the South Caucasus republics, including Georgia, the first deputy chairman of the Federation Council Committee on Science, Education and Culture, a representative of the executive body of the Republic of Bashkortostan, Lilia Gumerova, said to Vestnik Kavkaza.
Ahead of the 98th anniversary of the proclamation of the Democratic Republic of Azerbaijan, Georgia and Armenia (May 26 is Georgia's independence day, May 28 is Azerbaijani Republic Day, May 28 is Armenian Republic Day) Vestnik Kavkaza is publishing a series of interviews with Russian politicians, economists and cultural figures about links between Russia and these countries.
Today, when Georgian people and the state are celebrating the Independence Day, we'd like to draw your attention to the first part of interview with Lilia Gumerova, dedicated to relations between Russia and Georgia.
As the senator stressed, the Russian leadership has always advocated the normalization of contacts with Georgia. "We remember that Russia immediately responded to the positive signals in October 2012, when Bidzina Ivanishvili became the head of the Georgian government. Since December 2012, the dialogue for the normalization of relations is developing effectively in those areas, where progress is possible. Tbilisi is ready to restore relations on not every issue, but a dialogue in the trade, transport and humanitarian spheres is bringing tangible results. For example, such key products of Georgia's exports as wine, mineral water and agricultural products have returned to the Russian market, as well as ground and regular air transportation was resumed," she said.
Russia's rejection of reciprocal steps after Georgia's association agreement with the EU became a gesture of goodwill. "We did not take restrictive measures in connection with Georgia's signing of the free trade area agreement with the EU, due to witch the republic has gained an advantage in trade. And this, in fact, helped Georgia to reduce losses from the economic crisis. We can see a revival of cultural, sports, religious and business contacts, which were previously blocked by the atmosphere of misunderstanding, rejection and Russophobia, which was propagated by the Saakashvili regime. Today, there is a practice of expanding the issuance of visas to citizens of Georgia, and we note that the Georgian athletes took part in the Winter Olympics in Sochi," Lilia Gumerova said.
Moscow also notes the Georgian leadership's desire to solve the accumulated problems, but Tbilisi's internal and external policy still prevents a full-scale rapprochement between the two countries. "First of all, it's about the demand of the Georgian side to withdraw the recognition of the independence of South Ossetia and Abkhazia. Despite the fact that Russia is very interested in a dialogue with Tbilisi, that's out of the question. Secondly, it's alarmingly enough that Georgia is moving closer to NATO," the senator pointed out.
Speaking of the South Caucasus as a whole, the first deputy chairman of the Federation Council Committee on Science, Education and Culture emphasized the importance of human connections which connect the region and Russia. "No matter what region of the Caucasus we visit - these are families, a centuries-old friendship, joint projects in various spheres of public life and political activity. The most important thing is to preserve peace and stability in the Caucasus, and Russia in the case is the strength, which is able to act as guarantor of a dialogue, draw attention to it and shift forces into the sphere of peace talks. Only a guarantee of peace can ensure further cooperation between our countries for the sake of prosperity, calm, peaceful and happy life of millions of citizens," she concluded.