TBILISI, November 1 (RIA Novosti) - Tbilisi is restarting its ties with Moscow “from a clean slate” but the restoration of diplomatic relations will be linked to the issue of the country’s territorial integrity, Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili said on Thursday.
“Russia has opened two embassies, in Sukhumi and Tskhinvali, and recognized the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. This is the main reason diplomatic relations with Russia cannot be restored,” he said.
It will take time to restore diplomatic ties and “it will be a difficult process,” Ivanishvili said.
Earlier in the day he announced the appointment of Zurab Abashidze as his point man on Georgian-Russian ties.
Georgia broke off diplomatic relations with Russia after their August 2008 war over the breakaway republics of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.
Ivanishvili previously said restoration of national unity will remain a priority for Georgia’s new government.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said last Wednesday he hoped to improve Russia’s relations with Georgia.
However, Georgian Foreign Ministry Maya Pandzhikidze said on Friday Georgia was not ready to restore diplomatic relations with Russia as long as it continued to "occupy" Georgian territory.
Georgia lost one-fifth of its territory after South Ossetia and Abkhazia broke away.