Russian Foreign Minister Says Daesh Uses Pankisi Gorge for Training

Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov stated that the Islamic State (IS) fighters use Georgia’s Pankisi Gorge for training.

The Russian top diplomat made the corresponding statement at an annual press conference today.

“The terrorist threat still exists in the Pankisi Gorge. It is reported that Islamic State members use the remote area for training, relaxing and making supplies," Lavrov said.

Lavrov highlighted that the situation in the Gorge was one of the reasons why Russia tightened its visa regime with Georgia.

He also expressed his readiness to meet with his Georgian counterpart.

Lavrov stressed down the statement of the Russian President, Vladimir Putin, where he is ready to meet with the Georgian President Giorgi Margvelashvili.

“I am ready for contacts with my Georgian counterpart. I am sure that other contacts are also possible. President Putin, when he was asked about it, did not rule out such a possibility," Lavrov said.

Georgia’s Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili replied to Lavrov’s statement and stated that there is no terrorist threat in the Pankisi Gorge at the moment.

“The Georgian government carries out full inspection over the regions under its control. A few people from Pankisi Gorge went to Syria to fight for the Islamic State, though a strict control is imposed on their entry back to the country. I can directly say that there is no terrorist threat in the Pankisi Gorge at the present time,” Kvirikashvili said.

Kvirikashvili also commented on Lavrov’s statement, which concerned the absence of diplomatic relations between Georgia and Russia.

“Restoration of diplomatic relations with Russia has important preconditions - it is the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Georgia. As for positive statements, I want to say that the facilitation of visa movement was a very positive decision,” Kvirikashvili said.

26 January 2016 18:42