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Russia Hopes to Improve Ties with Georgia After Vote

RIA Novosti

15:16 03/10/2012 MOSCOW, October 3 (RIA Novosti) - The Russian Foreign Ministry expressed hope on Wednesday that the opposition victory in recent parliamentary elections in Georgia would help Tbilisi improve relations with its neighbors.

With 97.03 percent of the vote counted, billionaire tycoon Bidzina Ivanishvili’s Georgian Dream is on a fast track to win a solid majority in Georgia's 150-seat parliament.

The Georgian Dream won 55 percent of the vote and President Mikheil Saakashvili’s UNM party garnered 40.27 percent on party lists, while in the 73 single-mandate races, Ivanishvili’s coalition won 38 seats compared to 35 for Saakashvili’s party.

"It is obvious that the Georgian society voted for changes. We hope that finally, these changes will allow Georgia to start normalizing and improving constructive and respectful relations with its neighbors," Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich said.

Ivanishvili repeatedly stated during the election campaign that the improvement of relations with Russia would be a priority in Georgia’s foreign policy if the opposition wins the majority in parliament.

“We would certainly welcome this development of events,” Lukashevich said.

Relations between Georgia and Russia saw a sharp increase in tensions during Saakashvili’s rule, which culminated in a five-day conflict in 2008 over the breakaway republic of South Ossetia.

Georgia suffered a humiliating defeat, and the de facto loss of one-fifth of its territory, as Russia recognized the independence of South Ossetia and another breakaway republic, Abkhazia.

Moscow and Tbilisi have had no diplomatic relations since then.

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