Britain is “committed” to supporting Georgia’s “territorial integrity”, Philip Hammond has warned Vladimir Putin during a visit to the state.
Conflicts in breakaway regions Abkhazia and South Ossetia have not been forgotten, the Foreign Secretary insisted as he met Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili for talks.
Tensions between Russia and Georgia were further inflamed last year when Mr Putin signed a deal with the leader of South Ossetia giving Moscow control over its economy and armed forces. The agreement was struck on the one year anniversary of Russia’s annexation of Crimea from Ukraine.
Russia recognised South Ossetia and Abkhazia as independent states after its five-day war with Georgia in 2008 and Tbilisi has continued fears over creeping annexation of its territory.
Mr Hammond said: The UK is committed to Georgia as a valued international security partner and democratic role model in the region. The bilateral relationship is strong and we welcome their progress in implementing economic and political reforms as they aspire towards closer relations with the EU and Nato.
“We have not forgotten that the conflicts in Abkhazia and South Ossetia remain unresolved. The UK is committed to supporting Georgia’s independence and territorial integrity. The UK has always been clear that countries like Georgia should be able to make their own sovereign choices about their futures, free from outside interference.”
“2016 marks the 25th year of Georgia’s independence. We hope and expect that elections in October will exemplify all the democratic progress that has been achieved in the years since independence.”