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Tbilisi Says No Diplomatic Ties With Russia While It Occupies Georgian Territory

Incoming Foreign Minister Maia Panjikidze (left) with Georgian Dream leader Bidzina Ivanishvili at a Tbilisi press conference earlier this year.
Georgia's new foreign minister, Maia Panjikidze, has reiterated to journalists her government's position that it will continue a policy of refraining from formal diplomatic relations with Moscow until Russia ends its "occupation" of two breakaway Georgian regions.

The incoming government led by Georgian Dream leader Bidzina Ivanishvili was confirmed by lawmakers on October 25.

Critics and political rivals have sought to paint Ivanishvili, a billionaire who made much of his fortune in Russia, as overly cozy with Moscow.

He has vowed to improve relations crippled since a five-day war between Georgia and Russia in August 2008 over two breakaway Georgian regions, Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

"Twenty percent of Georgian territory is occupied by Russia, and Russia is the country that is occupying Georgia," Foreign Minister Panjikidze said on Octover 26. "It opened two embassies in Tskhinvali and Sukhumi, and as long as what I have said remains a fact, diplomatic relations with Russia will not be restored. Despite the fact that we don't have diplomatic relations, it's possible to have a dialogue, just as the former government was able to work with Russia in different spheres."

Following the 2008 war, Moscow recognized the independence of the separatist-led South Ossetia and Abkhazia.

Based on reporting by ITAR-TASS and RFE/RL