MOSCOW, February 11 (RIA Novosti) – Georgia’s new prime minister Irakli Garibashvili said Tuesday that he is ready to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin, signifying a thaw in bilateral ties.
Georgia has had no diplomatic ties with Moscow since their brief war in 2008 over the de-facto independent republic South Ossetia, which was recognized by Russia as an independent state along with fellow breakaway Georgian republic Abkhazia.
“I am ready for this,” Garibashvili, 31, who became the youngest current head of government in Europe in November, said in an interview with the Imedi private television Tuesday.
Last week, Garibashvili warned Russia against making any move to bolster the independence claims of the two breakaway Georgian regions during a ceremony at the Winter Olympics in Sochi.
Putin said earlier this week that he would have talks with Georgian President Giorgi Margvelashvili if the latter wished to meet with him. The Georgian president said he would consider Putin’s invitation.
The Russian leader said Monday that he was glad that Georgian athletes were participating in the Sochi Olympics. He said that direct flights between Tbilisi and Sochi resumed just before the Games.
“I think that it is a very good sign, and that is exactly the case when the Olympic Games contribute to building ties even where it seemed impossible or very difficult,” Putin told journalists in Sochi.