Georgia's president Salome Zurabishvili says she wants her country to move closer to Europe amidst a spat with Russia over the disputed province of Abkhazia.
In an interview with Euronews’s Anelise Borges in Tbilisi, Zurabishvili said her country and Russia have had no diplomatic relations since 2008, and that any future relationship with Russia would "have to be based on mutual respect".
At the centre of Georgia's spat with Moscow is Abkhazia, over which the two nations fought a war in 1992 and which was declared a Russian-occupied territory 11 years ago. Last week, Abkhazia held presidential elections which have been criticised as "unacceptable" by Georgia.
An EU enthusiast, Zurabishvili appears to be ready to join the European Union, although Georgia is not currently a candidate country. Nevertheless, she said she would like to see the country move closer to Brussels.
“Georgians feel that they are Europeans. It is not something they are striving for. They are European," she said.
"They are also very optimistic about Europe because they think that European attraction is something that has no alternative, which is something that from the inside sometimes Europeans do not see."
Zurabishvili added that Brexit could mean opportunities for other countries: “I think that Brexit is certainly a very big challenge, but I’m sure that it will lead to new opportunities and to new obligations of Europe to reform itself, and being an optimist I am sure it will open new doors to us.”
Zurabishvili also condemned the ‘unacceptable presidential elections' in Abkhazia.
In a statement on Monday, the Georgian government said its international partners would also not accept the ballot.
Watch Anelise Borges' interview with Salome Zurabishvili here or on Euronews Tonight at 8.45PM CEST