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Saakashvili Congratulates Lukashenko
Civil Georgia, Tbilisi / 21 Dec.'10 / 17:14

The Georgian President’s administration has confirmed that Mikheil Saakashvili congratulated Alexander Lukashenko with victory in the presidential elections.

Manana Manjgaladze, the Georgian President’s spokesperson, told Civil.ge that Saakashvili spoke with Lukashenko by phone.

Earlier on Tuesday Georgian President’s spokesperson, who was asked to comment on presidential elections in Belarus at a news conference, made no mention of any congratulation delivered by Saakashvili to Lukashenko. The spokesperson instead adhered to a cautious line, first voiced by the Georgian Foreign Ministry on December 20, and said that the Georgian President would only make an official statement after the announcement of final results of the elections in Belarus.

The announcement about Saakashvili’s congratulation to Lukashenko, however, was posted on the Belarus President’s website.

Other leaders, who, according to the Belarus President’s website, congratulated Lukashenko with reelection for the fourth term as President of Belarus, are Presidents of Venezuela and Kazakhstan. According to the same press release, Russia’s President Dmitry Medvedev “reacted positively” on election results.

Georgia condemned Belarus previous presidential elections in 2006 as undemocratic and President Saakashvili said at the time that “dark forces” were trying to oppress freedom in Belarus.

Georgia and Belarus showed first sign of changing tone in their relationship towards more positive in September, 2007, when Georgian Interior Minister, Vano Merabishvili, visited Minks.

Georgia intensified efforts to build better relations with Minks after the August, 2008 war with Russia, as it tried to secure non-recognition of Abkhazia and South Ossetia from Belarus.

According to one classified diplomatic dispatch from series of leaked U.S. embassy cables, President Lukashenko complained in October, 2009, that he would be forced to recognize Abkhazia and South Ossetia in order to get cheaper Russian gas – no recognition from Minks followed.

According to the same cable, Lukashenko allegedly told visiting Estonian Foreign Minister Urmas Paet in October, 2009 that President Saakashvili invited him to visit Tbilisi, but had not yet accepted it since he did not want to annoy Moscow.

Instead, Lukashenko sent to Georgia Deputy Prime Minister of Belarus in January, 2010. During the meeting with the Deputy PM in Batumi, President Saakashvili praised Belarus leadership for “far-sighted and wise position in respect of our relations.”

Saakashvili met with Lukashenko in July, 2010 in Yalta, Ukraine and few days later the Belarus state TV aired an interview with Saakashvili, triggering angry reaction in Moscow.

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