(RIA Novosti) - The president of Kyrgyzstan said Thursday he hoped for a swift resolution of a conflict in Russian-Georgian relations that broke out after four Russian officers were charged with espionage in the Caucasus country last week.
The acrimonious dispute has seriously damaged relations, with Russia suspending travel and postal links with Georgia, and threatening to freeze banking transactions with its southern neighbor. The sanctions remain in force even though Georgia, which has reportedly warned it could scupper Russia's bid to join the World Trade Organization, released the Russian officers Monday, reports Trend.
But Kurmanbek Bakiyev, who came to power in the former Soviet republic of Kyrgyzstan in 2005 on the back of the "tulip revolution", tried to take an upbeat view on the situation at a meeting with Russia's defense minister.
"I hope that the Georgian-Russian conflict will be resolved," the president told Sergei Ivanov, who is also a deputy prime minister. "I hope that Georgia will make the right decision and find the wisdom to correct the situation."
Ivanov said Russia would stick by its decision to close two Soviet-era military bases in the west and south of Georgia.
"We will withdraw all our military bases from Georgia," Ivanov said. "We do not need them there."
Russia is set to withdraw from the bases by 2008 and has already shipped out hundreds of tons of hardware this year. Ivanov said Wednesday in Kyrgyzstan that no measures would be taken to reinforce the bases.
"We will certainly not build up troops [in Georgia], we see no point in doing this," he said. "On the contrary, we will be withdrawing the two Russian bases from Georgian territory according to schedule or even ahead of it."
Since Mikheil Saakashvili came to power in Georgia on the back of the 2003 "Rose Revolution," both the government and parliament have sought to remove Russian peacekeepers from conflict zones with two self-proclaimed republics, and to force the withdrawal of Russian troops from two Soviet-era bases.