Source Pravda.Ru

Tbilisi keeps insisting on Russian bases withdrawal from Georgia

Tbilisi keeps insisting on the soonest possible withdrawal of Russian peacekeeping bases from Batumi and Akhalkalaki.

"Our position remains the same and it has even become stronger: the bases must be withdrawn," Georgian Foreign Minister Salome Zurabilshvili told a Wednesday press conference. In her opinion, the Russian bases have "lost their strategic significance."

Earlier Zurabishvili already voiced her position in regard to Russian peacekeepers staying in Georgia.

"No one needs these bases. Georgia does not need either these or other bases. The preservation of these bases and protracting the process is not in Russia's interests," Zurabishvili said at a press conference on May 6 after talks with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.

In his turn, Lavrov said Moscow and Tbilisi will continue work at the level of experts on the issue of the status and terms of stay of Russian bases in Georgia.

"We have taken a decision on what specific further steps will be made by our countries at the level of experts on issues dealing with the settlement of the status and terms of stay of Russian bases on Georgian territory," Lavrov said after a meeting with Zurabishvili.

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov earlier said there would be no haste in the Russian bases withdrawal from Georgia.

"We need time, and big financial means to establish these bases on Russian territory," Ivanov said at a press conference in Yerevan on May 20.

The defense minister recalled that negotiations with Georgia have somewhat slowed down lately due to objective reasons - the cabinets changed in both countries.

"The talks will be continued. They will touch upon the terms of withdrawal and the bases' status," said Mr. Ivanov.