Broadcaster reports Georgia ‘actively working’ to restore diplomatic ties with Russia

Georgia’s ruling Georgian Dream party is “actively working” to restore the country’s diplomatic relations with Russia following the passing of a controversial Russian-style “foreign agents” law earlier this month, Georgian opposition broadcaster Mtavari reported on Tuesday.

Unnamed sources told Mtavari that the Georgian and Russian governments were working together on restoring relations and that the recruitment of diplomats to work at the currently unused Georgian embassy in Moscow had begun.

Tbilisi broke off diplomatic ties with Moscow in 2008 after Russia invaded the country in what it called a “peace enforcement” operation in the breakaway Georgian regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia. To this day, Georgia and most of the international community consider both regions to be under Russian military occupation.

In May 2023, Vladimir Putin introduced visa-free travel to Russia for Georgian citizens for the first time since 2000 and lifted a ban on flights between the two countries that had been in place since 2019 amid protests in Georgia against the country’s deepening ties with its northern neighbour.

Mtavari said that Georgian Dream representatives had called reports of Georgia reopening its embassy in Moscow “groundless”, but the channel noted that the situation was developing “exactly according to the [same] scenario” which previously resulted in the resumption of flights, the abolition of the visa regime and the Georgian government’s adoption of what its opponents call the “Russian law” against “foreign agents”.

Fears of Russia’s growing influence in Georgia have risen since Georgian Dream passed that law, which requires NGOs that receive over 20% of their funding from abroad to register as “agents of foreign influence”, despite mass protests and a presidential veto.

Just days after the “foreign agents” bill was signed into law, Georgian Dream introduced a package of 19 bills “on family values and protecting minors” into parliament, which closely mirror recent Russian anti-LGBT legislation.

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