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Georgia calls for joint border patrolling with Russia

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  • Georgia calls for joint border patrolling with Russia

    ITAR-TASS News Agency
    March 9, 2004 Tuesday

    Georgia calls for joint border patrolling with Russia

    Visiting Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili said Tbilisi
    continued to call for joint patrolling, with Russian border guards,
    of the Russian-Georgian border, in order to prevent its crossing by
    Chechen militants.

    "My proposal received support in Moscow," Saakashvili told a news
    conference here on Tuesday, adding that Chechen militants pose a
    danger to Georgia's security.

    Saakashvili affirmed that Georgia had put an end to the "policy of
    animosity" towards Russia, pursued by the former leadership of the

    "It's extremely important for us to establish good relations with
    Russia," he said.

    "I invite to Georgia Russian businesspeople and Russian tourists,"
    the president stressed. He stated the issue of the Russian military
    bases on the Georgian territory "has been already settled" and "they
    will be withdrawn."

    Saakashvili urged to take a broader view of Georgia' relations with
    Russia and not to focus exclusively on military facilities.

    The president also said neither Tbilisi nor Washington had plans to
    set up U.S. military bases in Georgia. Tbilisi gives priority to "the
    European direction," and integration in the European Union, he

    The United States has its own interests in the Caucasus, foremost in
    the energy sphere, as well as in strengthening democracy and stable
    government structures there. "It coincides with our general course
    toward economic and democratic development of Georgia," Saakashvili

    The establishment in the Caucasus of a zone of democracy, stability
    and fast economic growth, on the basis of rapprochement between
    Georgia, Azerbaijan and Armenia, is one of the main geopolitical
    tasks of the incumbent Georgian leadership. Saakashvili said he had
    had a meeting with Azerbaijan President Ilkham Aliyev, at which they
    discussed this ambitious project. "I saw Ilkham Aliyev as a brilliant
    and profound politician," the Georgian leader stressed.

    He explained that Georgia and Azerbaijan would step up their
    integration processes in the nearest future. "We are expecting
    Armenia to join at some stage," he noted.

    One of the prime objectives of this rapprochement is the
    strengthening of democratic institutions in the Caucasus, which would
    have a positive influence on the Middle East, the Georgian president

    Tbilisi is conducting a dialogue and consultations with all its
    regions except Abkhazia. Saakashvili said he called for a peaceful
    settlement of the Abkhazian conflict, but "much depends on Abkhazia
    itself and on results of the forthcoming elections there."

    As for Georgia's autonomous region of Abkhazia, Saakashvili said
    relations with its leader Aslan Abashidze "have become softer".

    He made it clear, however, that he did not rule out changes in
    Adzharia's leadership after the upcoming elections.