Russia says June protests in Tbilisi ‘negatively influenced’ process of normalisation of relations

 Russian FM Sergey Lavrov says that his country is interested in the restoration of relations with Georgia. Photo: Reuters., 17 Jan 2020 - 17:42, Tbilisi,Georgia

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov says that the June 2019 ‘provocations’ [referring to protests in Tbilisi] have negatively influenced the process of normalising relations between the two countries which was launched in 2012 under the Georgian Dream leadership. 

In the statement released by the Russian Foreign Ministry Lavrov says that ‘Russia was forced to respond to the provocations and temporarily suspended direct flights with Georgia.’ 

The statement reads that Russia welcomed the first meeting in 12 years between Russian and Georgian foreign ministers during the UN General Assembly last year, “where the ministers sincerely discussed the challenges in bilateral relations.” 

Protests launched in June 2019 in Tbilisi continued for several months. Photo: Nino Alavidze/ 

However, Lavrov says that comments made in Tbilisi following the meeting were “disappointing.” 

We are continually interested in the consequent normalisation of relations [with Georgia],” Lavrov says. 

Lavrov states that despite the absence of diplomatic relations Russia is Georgia’s second trade partner with trade turnover amounting to 1.1 billion USD. 

 Protests in Tbilisi in June 2019 were sparked by the presence of Russian MPs in the Georgian parliament, where one of the MPs, Sergey Gavrilov, took the seat of the Georgian parliament speaker. 

Demonstrators said that MPs from a country which occupies 20 per cent of the Georgian territory should not have been allowed into parliament, especially in the seat of the parliamentary speaker.