Tbilisi calls for boosting humanitarian and tourism cooperation with Moscow, as well as for easing tensions, the Georgian Prime Minister’s Envoy for Relations with Russia Zurab Abashidze told TASS on Friday.
He pointed out that Russian top diplomat Sergey Lavrov had said ahead of his September 26 meeting with the Georgian foreign minister "that he would welcome the resumption of flights." "As for Georgia, the prime minister and the cabinet members have welcomed such an approach, saying that complicated issues between the two countries should be resolved through dialogue based on international law. Georgia calls for boosting humanitarian and tourism ties, as well as for easing tensions," the envoy added.
Abashidze also said that Tbilisi’s foreign partners were positive about the recent meeting between the foreign ministers of Georgia and Russia.
Russian Presidential Spokesman Dmitry Peskov said earlier that flights between Russia and Georgia would be resumed once it became clear that bilateral relations would not return "to an aggressive track."
Russia banned flights to and from Georgia following the unrest that erupted in Tbilisi on June 20. The protests were sparked by an uproar over a Russian legislator’s address in the Georgian parliament. On June 21, Russian President Vladimir Putin issued a decree, barring Russian air carriers from operating flights between Russia and Georgia starting on July 8. The ban was later expanded to include Georgian air companies.
On September 26, Lavrov held a meeting with his Georgian counterpart David Zalkaliani on the sidelines of the 74th session of the United Nations General Assembly. It was the first meeting between the foreign ministers of Russia and Georgia since 2008, when Tbilisi had severed diplomatic ties with Moscow in the wake of Russia’s recognition of the independence of South Ossetia and Abkhazia. Since 2012, the two countries have been maintaining dialogue only through meetings between Special Representative of the Georgian Prime Minister for Relations with Russia Zurab Abashidze and Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Grigory Karasin.
Karasin recently stepped down and was succeeded by Deputy Foreign Minister Andrei Rudenko.