Russia-Georgia relations depend on Saakashvili govt. conduct

Other News Materials 5 October 2006 12:00 (UTC +04:00)

(RIA Novosti) - Prospects for an improvement of Russia-Georgia relations fully depend on the conduct of President Mikheil Saakashvili government, Russia's foreign minister said Wednesday.

After four Russian officers were detained in Tbilisi and charged with espionage last week, Russia suspended travel and postal links with Georgia, and threatened to freeze banking transactions with its southern neighbor. The sanctions remain in force even though Georgia released the Russian officers Monday, reports Trend.

"Prospects for improving relations with Georgia fully depend on the further conduct of the regime of Saakashvili, who knows perfectly well what must be done to cardinally correct his anti-Russian course to achieve a shift for the better in relations with Russia," Sergei Lavrov said in a phone conversation with the OSCE's chairman-in-office.

"There is, and there will be no request for the mediation of the OSCE, or anyone else, for the sake of improving those relations," he said.

On Tuesday, Lavrov accused the Georgian government of pursuing a patently anti-Russian line and announced that Moscow will shut down the flow of illegal funds from Russia to Georgia, saying the money was ultimately being used for military aims. He also said a Russian ban on travel and postal links will remain in force for the time being.

Although Tbilisi handed over the four Russian officers at the heart of the scandal Monday evening, Lavrov made it clear that Moscow regards their arrest as part of a broader strategy aimed at Moscow.

"The actions of the Georgian leadership have unquestionably become consistently anti-Russian," Lavrov told a news conference.

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 that are due to close in 2008.

Lavrov said the espionage scandal was perfectly in line with the anti-Russian policies consistently pursued by the Georgian government in recent years.