Konstantin KOSACHEV, chairman of the State Duma international affairs committee, speaks in a television interview about the situation in Georgia, Tbilisi-Batumi relations, and Russia's policy in the Caucasus

In the past 15 years, Georgia has been trying, without success, to resolve accumulating problems, in particular its economic crisis, corruption and separatism. Tbilisi knows very well that he who holds the key to Adzharia, an ethnic autonomy located on the seashore, will solve Georgia's economic problems.

Russia's interests in the region can be set out in three phrases. Firstly, Russia wants to have normal relations with Georgia, Azerbaijan and Armenia. Secondly, Georgia has several ethnic groups which Russia has traditionally supported. And thirdly and most importantly, the situation in the Russian North Caucasus largely depends on developments in Georgia.

Any destabilisation there inevitably spills over into Russia. If Georgia splits into several principalities, it will have an extremely adverse effect on the situation in Chechnya and possibly several other members of the Russian Federation. This is why Moscow wants Georgia to preserve its territorial integrity and have a strong leadership. Russia's policy is not to intervene in the Abkhazian or Adzharian conflicts, at least in a way that would provoke the secession of these two republics from Georgia. The Kremlin wants to encourage their leaders to keep up dialogue with Tbilisi in a search for a political compromise, rather than resort to force.

Russia provides regular assistance to the Georgian economy, and this is not energy resources alone. Moscow is gradually writing off the large Georgian debt. If dialogue with President Saakashvili develops as it has begun, we shall find various forms of involvement in the Georgian economy, just as we did it in Ukraine and Belarus. The Russian companies' interest in investing in Georgia is apparent.

As for military bases, it is good when they are deployed in the territory of a foreign state with its permission and when the said state wants to host them. Unlike Central Asian states, Georgia and Moldova are not interested in Russian bases so far, and Russia should respect the sovereign will of these states.

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