Moscow plans no Putin -Saakashvili meeting at CIS summit
(RIA Novosti) - Moscow plans no separate meeting between the Russian and Georgian presidents on the sidelines of ex-Soviet leaders' summit Tuesday, a Kremlin official said.
Relations between the two nations have hit their lowest following an espionage scandal in September, which led to Russian economic sanctions against Georgia and deportation of hundreds of Georgian migrant workers, reports Trend.
"Unless their paths cross at the summit, there will be no separate meeting," said Modest Kolerov, head of the presidential staff's department for interregional and cultural contacts with foreign countries, told the Georgian Mze television company.
Leaders of 11 nations in the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) will meet Tuesday in Minsk for the 15th summit of the alliance. Turkmenistan, an associated member, will be represented by its ambassador to Belarus.
Kolerov added Russia had not completely given up on the meeting between Vladimir Putin and Mikheil Saakashvili.
"Perhaps, Georgia did not make convincing proposals or efforts to organize such a meeting," he said, calling on the South Caucasus nation to be more pro-active.
"We need specific actions that will enable us to tell the world that militarization is over and that nobody among Georgian authorities seeks warfare," he said.
Saakashvili who has already departed for Minsk said Monday that Georgia would not like to harm the relations with Russia to the point where it will not be possible to restore them.
"We do realize that we must maintain good relations with Russia, or at least normal relations," Saakashvili said. "We would not want these relations to deteriorate to the point where it would be impossible to restore them."
He said that the Georgian people would never abandon the idea of the country's integrity despite any pressure.
Tbilisi seeks to bring the breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia back under its control, and accuses Russia of supporting separatist forces there. The Russian Foreign Ministry said this was the cause of the current crisis in relations with Georgia.
After Russia banned Georgian wines and mineral water in March, Tbilisi withdrew its signature from a bilateral protocol on Moscow's accession to the World Trade Organization in July.
Tensions mounted further in late September when Georgia briefly detained four Russian officers on espionage charges. In response, Russia cut off transport and postal links to its neighbor and deported hundreds of Georgian migrants, saying they were in the country illegally.
Saakashvili said he would voice Georgia's position in the current political spat with Russia at the CIS summit. His program in Minsk will also include bilateral meetings with Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko and Kazakh leader Nursultan Nazarbayev.