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  Sunday, September 15, 2019
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Georgia's parliament has lifted a moratorium on anti-Russian speeches
Georgia's parliament has lifted a moratorium on anti-Russian speeches, but the assembly's speaker said Monday criticism of the Caucasus country's northern neighbor should continue to be restricted to diplomatic contexts. Nino Burdzhanadze had imposed the ban ahead of a meeting between presidents Vladimir Putin and Mikheil Saakashvili in St. Petersburg June 13 to overcome a crisis in relations between the two nations over a number of issues, including "frozen" conflicts in Georgia's breakaway provinces of South Ossetia and Abkhazia and a ban on imports to Russia of Georgian wines and mineral waters. "We cannot permanently abstain from speaking out on certain issues, but I hope we can lower the temperature of the dialogue. I believe Georgia and Russia should continue mutual criticism but through diplomatic channels, seeking to find a solution," Burdzhanadze said in an interview Monday. She said that it was sometimes difficult to control emotions when a dispute concerned territory and 300,000 refugees, but that insults and swearing were unacceptable. And she condemned a move by Romanian senator Ilie Ilascu to strip Russia of the chairmanship of the Council of Europe's ministerial committee. "I oppose isolating Russia from any kind of international political or legal activity, because this would lead to nothing positive," she said. Burdzhanadze said she was upbeat about her work with Sergei Mironov, who chairs the upper house of Russia's parliament, the Federation Council, and invited other Federation Council members to dialogue within the framework of the Caucasus "quartet" - Russia, Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan. But she said a meeting of the quartet has yet to be scheduled.
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