Georgia’s government strives to prevent the escalation of tensions in relations with Russia, Georgian Prime Minister Mamuka Bakhtadze said in Tbilisi on Tuesday.
Speaking at an international forum on Georgian security issues, he said that, "despite the most difficult challenges and provocations, the Georgian government will actively continue the work to prevent any escalation in relations with Russia." "If Russia’s authorities wish to consider Russia’s long-term interests in establishing peace and stability in the region, if they wish to forge good neighborly relationship with Georgia, then Moscow has to fully implement the ceasefire agreement between Georgia and Russia, that was signed on August 12 through the mediation of the EU, and withdraw the Russian forces from Georgian territory," the prime minister stated.
The country’s top officials are attending the international forum in Tbilisi, as well as foreign ministers from Lithuania, Latvia and Poland, who are staying here on a two-day joint official visit, Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Pavel Rozenko, local and foreign experts and representatives of foreign countries’ embassies and branches of international organizations.
Georgia carried out an armed attack on South Ossetia overnight into August 8, 2008. Russia protected the republic’s citizens, many of whom had achieved Russian citizenship by that time, and its peacemakers. The five-day war killed more than 1,000 people, including 72 Russian servicemen. On August 26, 2008, Russia recognized the independence of South Ossetia and of the other former Georgian autonomy - Abkhazia.
On September 2, 2008, Tbilisi declared the end of diplomatic relations with Moscow "due to Russia’s recognition of Abkhazia and the Tskhinval region." Since March 2009 the section of Russia’s interests with Russian staff has been operating in Tbilisi at the Swiss embassy, and the section of Georgia’s interests, in Moscow at the Swiss Embassy in Russia. This past July Georgian Foreign Minister David Zalkaliani stated that "the restoration of comprehensive relations with Russia is possible only based on Russia’s observance of Georgia’s territorial integrity in the internationally recognized country borders."
Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev believes that the war in South Ossetia in 2008 could be prevented if it were not for "the irresponsible, immoral and criminal behavior of [then-Georgian President Mikheil] Saakashvili and his accomplices." Medvedev said it in an interview with the Kommersant newspaper dedicated to the 10th anniversary of the Georgian-Ossetian conflict. He also noted that Russia is ready to build comprehensive dialogue with Georgia’s new administration.
Russia’s authorities state that it was then-Georgian government that unleashed the August 2008 war by launching an attack on South Ossetia, while Georgia’s top officials say that "it was Russia that triggered and started the war to exert pressure over Tbilisi and prevent the continuation of Georgia’s course for accession to NATO.