Cold ties remain for Georgia and Russia

Aug. 9, 2013 at 10:52 AM
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TBILISI, Georgia, Aug. 9 (UPI) -- It's unlikely tensions between Russian and the former Soviet republic of Georgia will ease any time soon, the Georgian foreign minister said.

This week marks the 5th anniversary of a brief war between Russia and Georgia over the breakaway republics of South Ossetia and Abkhazia. Both sides blame the other for escalating the conflict, though Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili faced a political backlash at home for his decision to go to war.

A Russian border fence built in June near the border of the republics sparked additional concerns.

Georgian Foreign Minister Maya Pandzhikidze said Thursday at a ceremony in Tbilisi marking the war anniversary there was little chance for a thaw in the relationship with Russia.

"Diplomatic relations will not be restored until this situation changes," she was quoted as saying by Russia's state news agency RIA Novosti.

Georgian Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili tilted toward Moscow when he brought his government to power in October, though breakthroughs are unlikely before Russia hosts the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, near the Georgian coast.

Georgia has lobbied for a closer relationship with NATO and the European Union. The EU has expressed frustration with the pace of political reforms in Tbilisi, saying the October election was not up to European standards.

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