Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Gregory Karasin has said that Russia’s decision to recognize the Georgian territories of Abkhazia and South Ossetia as independent states is final and Russia will not withdraw the decision.
The statement comes a week before a planned meeting with Georgian diplomat Zurab Abashidze in Prague, Czech Republic. Karasin made the statement in an interview to Russian newspaper Kommersant when speaking about diplomatic relations with Georgia and the establishment of NATO military bases in Georgia.
Karasin and Abashidze, who is the Special Representative of the Prime Minister of Georgia, have been holding regular talks since 2012. Georgia cut direct relations with Russia after the 2008 August war.
Karasin told Kommersant that strengthening the NATO and US presence in the region is unacceptable and that the deployment of French and American defense systems in Georgia is causing concerns.
Regarding Russian military bases in Abkhazia and South Ossetia, Karasin says they are "only aimed to protect two young Caucasian republics."
"Georgia has stopped diplomatic relations with Russia. The only demanded condition for the recovery of diplomatic relations from the Georgian side is for Russia to withdraw the recognition of Abkhazia and South Ossetia as independent states. However, we will not do it. The decision about the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia is final. We are developing partnerships with these two young Caucasian republics as allies. We have quite a solid agreement and legal framework which is aimed to enhance cooperation. As soon as the Georgian side is ready to restore diplomatic relations taking into account the new reality, we will immediately respond positively,” Karasin told Kommersant.
“The US actively increases its representation in Georgia, which creates growing concerns for us. Russia wants peace on its own borders. For that reason, Russian military bases are located in Abkhazia and South Ossetia. They are not representing a threat to anyone and are guarantees that nobody will attack two young Caucasian republics. If someone attacks them, they will receive a proper response,” Karasin said.
Tengiz Pkhaladze, the Georgian President’s Administration’s Foreign Relations Secretary, responded that Karasin’s statement directly puts pressure on the people living in the occupied regions.
“Gregory Karasin still speaks about the so-called reality that is only recognized by Russia and is contradicted by the entire civilized world. But what is the most thought-provoking and dangerous is that the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs makes statements that not only insult the inhabitants of the occupied territories, but also puts them under very serious pressure. [He is] Talking cynically about the fate of the people whose houses were divided, about people who cannot freely move in their homeland, visit their relatives or graves of their ancestors,” Pkhaladze said.