Georgian foreign minister arrives in Moscow for talks on withdrawing
Apr 24, 2005
Georgia’s foreign minister arrived in Moscow Sunday for more talks on
the status of Russia’s bases in the Caucasus Mountains nation, an
issue that continues to bedevil relations between the two former
Salome Zurabishvili will meet with her Russian counterpart, Sergey
Lavrov, on Monday to discuss the two bases’ status as well as a
Russian-backed proposal to set up an joint anti-terrorism center.
“The Russian side hopes that in the course of meetings of the two
country’s representatives … that a resolution will be found that
meets the interests of both sides,” said Alexander Yakovenko, a
spokesman for the Russia Foreign Ministry.
Georgia, where a pro-West leadership took power last year, wants
Moscow to hand back the bases within two years. But Russia says it
needs at least three years and it also wants millions in compensation.
Observers say Russia fears that pulling its forces from Georgia could
jeopardize its base in neighboring Armenia, a close Russian
ally. Armenia does not share a border with Russia, and all Russian
equipment and personnel have to transit Georgian territory to get
Russia also fears losing influence in the strategic Caucasus region,
which it considers its traditional sphere of influence.