Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Grigory Karasin told his Georgian counterpart Davit Dondua during a rare phone conversation between high-ranking diplomats of the two countries that Tbilisi’s “complaints” about South Ossetian “border” marking are “misdirected” and Georgia should take the issue directly to Tskhinvali.
The Russian Foreign Ministry was the first to report on Tuesday about the phone conversation, which was held on July 13. It was then also confirmed by the Georgian Foreign Ministry.
Dondua is Georgian chief negotiator in the Geneva international discussions, which were launched after the August 2008 war; Karasin is Russia’s chief negotiator in the same talks, who is also engaged in direct dialogue with Tbilisi launched in late 2012 and carried out from the Georgian side by PM’s special representative for relations with Russia, Zurab Abashidze. Abashidze and Karasin will be meeting in Prague on July 15.
Since late 2012, direct communication between Georgian and Russian diplomats, outside the framework of Geneva talks, were carried out via Abashidze and Karasin and the July 13 phone conversation between Karasin and Dondua appears to be the first of this kind between the deputy foreign ministers of the two countries since the August 2008 war.
Dondua told journalists on July 14 that he phoned Karasin in his capacity of the chief Georgian negotiator in the Geneva talks to express “concern and protest over placement of new [border marking] banners by the Russian so called border guards” in the short distance from Georgia’s main east-west highway, leaving a mile-long portion of the BP-operated Baku-Supsa oil pipeline within the “occupied” territory.
“I told him that such actions do not contribute to constructive dialogue in frames of the Geneva discussions,” Dondua said, adding that he expressed protest over moving one of the “border” markers 300 meters deeper into the Georgian-controlled territory.
The Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement about the phone conversation that Karasin told Dondua Tbilisi’s “complaints were misdirected.”
“Any kind of problem, related to the boundary line, is subject to discussion with the South Ossetian side, which, by the way, has stated for multiple times about readiness to engage in a dialogue over delimitation and demarcation of the border,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said.
“Karasin described propaganda hype stirred in Georgia as far-fetched,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said.
“Tbilisi knows it very well that there has not been and is not any kind of ‘border shifting’. It is high time for the Georgian side to determine – is it intending to follow positive logic of improving relations with Russia or will it continue resorting to provocative fictions, which set back process of normalization of bilateral [relations],” it said.
Georgian Foreign Minister, Tamar Beruchashvili, said on July 14 that Russia’s recent moves represent continuation of “creeping annexation.”
Commenting on the phone conversation between her deputy and the Russian Deputy Foreign Minister, Tamar Beruchashvili, said that Tbilisi is using all the available “formats” to address the issue, adding that Dondua and Karasin are interlocutors within the frames of the Geneva talks.