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Georgian Leader Clarifies Eurasian Union Remarks

Georgian Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili (file photo)
Georgian Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili (file photo)
TBILISI -- Georgia's prime minister says he is surprised by some politicians' harsh criticism of remarks he made regarding Tbilisi possibly joining the Russia-led Eurasian integration process.

In a written statement carried by Georgian media on September 6, Bidzina Ivanishvili said he had explicitly expressed many times that he considers Georgia's integration with the European Union and NATO a "cornerstone" of the nation's foreign policy.

Talking to journalists earlier this week, however, Ivanishvili did not exclude that Georgia might join a Eurasian economic union promoted by Russia if it is of "strategic interest" to Tbilisi. The statement sparked critical reaction by Ivanishvili's opponents.

Russia has been pushing former Soviet republics to join the Customs Union of Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Russia in recent years. Tbilisi's relations with Moscow remain tense since the brief Georgian-Russian war in August 2008.

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