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Europe

Abkhazia, South Ossetia: 'Russia has to agree peaceful solutions brings them more dignity than making war', Georgian President Margvelashvili

media Georgian President Giorgi Margvelashvili gives an exclusive interview to RFI's Daniel Singleton Courtesy Government of Georgia

Georgia has fulfilled all its obligations regarding passport issuance and this should help speed up the circulation of its citizens within the Schengen area, Georgian President Giorgi Margvelashvili told RFI's English Service in an exclusive interview.

Though negotiations with a view to strengthening ties with the European Union are important, President Margvelashvili stressed that bilateral relations are at least equally key to Georgia's foreign policy.

More importantly perhaps than distant EU membership, being part of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, Nato, is a greater objective for Georgia.

In 2002, then President Eduard Shevernadze had declared that Nato membership was the ultimate aim of Georgia's foreign and security policy. But failure to be offered a Membership Action Plan (the path to becoming part of the western defence organisation) in 2008 and 2014 were setbacks.

In his exclusive interview to RFI, however, President Margvelashvili highlighted that in 2014 the country was granted the status of the most interoperable non-Nato member military force. Georgia has soldiers as part of the Nato-led force in Afghanistan, as well as in the Central African Republic with the EU-led mission there.

Russia, he said, should realise it will gain friends in the region by helping bring about peacefully the return to Georgia of the breakaway regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia. He stressed that the only solution to the crisis is through diplomacy, not war.

President Margvelashvili said he felt confident of the economic role that his country can play in being a hub between Asia and Europe - thanks to the Baku-Tbilisi- Ceyhan oil pipeline, and the soon-to-be operational Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway that will link China and central Asia to Europe.

On a personal note, he explained that knitting, his rather surprising hobby, was taken up "as a dramatic effort" to try to stop smoking. But, he warned fellow smokers, "that does not work".

 
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