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Georgian, Russian Diplomats Meet, Discuss Cooperation

Georgian Prime Minister’s special representative for Russia Zurab Abashidze and Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Grigory Karasin met in Prague on October 1, as part of the informal direct bilateral dialogue launched between the two countries in late 2012.

Both sides reported after the meeting that the diplomats spoke on the increasing volumes of bilateral trade, economic and transport relations in recent months, and expressed readiness for “practical implementation” of the 2011 customs monitoring agreement.

Georgia’s trade turnover with Russia, according to the State Statistics Office Geostat, stood at USD 1.2 billion in 2017, with exports at USD 394.7 million (USD 206.4 million in 2016) and imports at USD 789 million (USD 675.6 million in 2016). Russia was the second largest trading partner of Georgia in 2017, trailing behind Turkey only.

The Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a press release of the meeting that “despite a whole range of positive [developments], Georgia’s military cooperation with NATO remains a subject for irritation” in bilateral relations between Georgia and Russia.

The ministry also stated that Grigory Karasin underscored the “rather harmful role that Tbilisi plays in bringing this military bloc closer to the borders of Russia and its allies in the Caucasus.” Karasin also noted that “the unfriendly statements made by the Georgian high-ranking officials, negatively affect the mutually beneficial process of bilateral relations.”

Less then a week ago, at the United Nations General Assembly, Prime Minister Mamuka Bakhtadze called on Moscow to fulfill the 2008 ceasefire agreement, and withdraw its armed forces from “two historic and integral regions” of Georgia. His statement was denounced by Russia, as well as the Sokhumi and Tskhinvali authorities.

According to the Georgian PM’s press office, Zurab Abashidze spoke on “the ongoing human rights violations,” and “the increasing militarization” in Abkhazia and Tskhinvali regions.

Abashidze told the Georgian Public Broadcaster that Moscow insists Tbilisi has to talk on the matters directly to Sokhumi and Tskhinvali, and that these problems “do not concern them.”

Abashidze stressed for breaking the”deadlock” in the Georgian-Russian relations “a lot depends on Russia’s political will,” but also underscored that this can only be achieved if Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity are respected by the Russian Federation.

Moscow recognized the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia on August 26, 2008, two weeks after the end of the Russo-Georgian war. Syria, Venezuela, Nauru and Nicaragua are the only other nations that recognize the two regions’ independence from Georgia.

This post is also available in: Georgian Russian

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