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Georgian parliament speaker says diplomatic relations with Russia 'strategic policy of patience'

by The Kyiv Independent news desk May 29, 2023 1:24 PM 2 min read
Georgian Speaker of the Parliament Shalva Papuashvili makes a statement during a joint press conference with Ukrainian Speaker of the Parliament Ruslan Stefanchuk (not seen) in Kyiv, Ukraine on April 16, 2022. (Photo: Georgian Parliamentary/Handout/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
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Georgian Parliament Speaker Shalva Papuashvili said that the prospect of restoring diplomatic relations with Russia was not a "policy of concessions" but rather a "strategic policy of patience."

In an interview with Kviris Palitra news outlet, Papuashvili said Georgia has "been set back decades" by "various upheavals, conflicts, and wars" in recent years. Preserving peace and ensuring economic stability are the primary objectives aligning with Georgia's national interests, Papuashvili added.

"We are trying to avoid provocations and various threats, including those coming from Russia. We do not give anything to anyone, we do not bargain for anything ... Our main goal is the unification of the country and European integration. To achieve these goals, peace, and economic progress are essential," the Georgian lawmaker said.

Some recent policy decisions in Georgia pertaining to Russia have garnered substantial criticism on both domestic and international fronts, with concerns that they could jeopardize Georgia's aspirations to join the EU.

During an interview at the Qatar Economic Forum on May 24, Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili voiced his criticism against any measures aimed at limiting trade between Georgia and Russia.

Garibashvili argued that imposing restrictions or severing trade ties between the two nations would not significantly affect Russia's economy.

However, figures from the Georgian National Statistics Office indicate that the trade turnover between Georgia and Russia reached $2.5 billion in 2022. Russia stands as one of Georgia's foremost trading partners, along with China and Azerbaijan.

Protests also broke out in Tbilisi on May 19 following the resumption of direct flights between Georgia and Russia. The Russian government had suspended flights between the two countries since 2019 in response to anti-Russian demonstrations in the capital. Additionally, Russia reinstated its 90-day visa-free arrangement with Georgia.

Papuashvili acknowledged that there was a "political motivation" behind the Russian government's decision to do so, but also said, "We believe that the more countries a Georgian citizen can visit without a visa the better."

Georgian authorities would also be monitoring any potential security concerns associated with an influx of Russians visiting the country, Papuashvili claimed.

Batu Kutelia: Lessons from Georgia of geopolitical procrastination
Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed in the op-ed section are those of the authors and do not purport to reflect the views of the Kyiv Independent. Feb. 24, 2022, was the date that Russia launched a decisive offensive against the free world. This war has caused a far-reaching domino effect
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