TOKYO -- Economic sanctions imposed on Russia over the Ukrainian crisis should not be relaxed anytime soon, Georgian President Giorgi Margvelashvili said Friday.
"Being tough and having a dialogue don't exclude each other," Margvelashvili told The Nikkei on a visit to Japan.
When Russia invaded Georgia in 2008, the European Union "was able to stop the war, but it wasn't able to restore the states of territories," he said. The president was referring to South Ossetia and Abkhazia, which remain occupied by Russia.
The international community was tough on Russia "during the war, but then toughness had disappeared," Margvelashvili said. Arguing that the current situation in Ukraine resulted from the international community's failure to keep up the pressure on Russia over the invasion of Georgia, he maintained that sanctions should not be lifted so quickly this time.
Georgia and the EU signed in June an association agreement spelling out closer trade and political ties. No one can stop Georgia from moving to the West, Margvelashvili said, indicating that the country will also seek membership in NATO.