|Georgia Challenges Russia’s Offer on Diplomatic Tie Restoration|
|March 05, 2012|
By Helena Bedwell
Georgian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergi Kapanadze said Russia must remove its “illegal embassies” from two occupied regions before Georgia will agree to restoring diplomatic relations severed after a 2008 war.
Russia’s Foreign Ministry offered to restore diplomatic relations with Georgia and may consider introducing a visa-free regime for Georgian citizens in response to a decision by Tbilisi to eliminate visas for Russians, according to Kapanadze.
“We welcome the visa-free travel, the Russian businesses and tourists here,” Kapanadze said by phone from Tbilisi today. “The diplomatic relations are still directly connected to our territorial integrity.”
Russia routed Georgia’s army in a five-day war in August 2008 over the Georgian breakaway region of South Ossetia, later recognizing its independence as well as that of Abkhazia, another separatist region. Georgia broke off diplomatic relations with Russia on Sept. 2, 2008.
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