Zurab Abashidze, Georgian Prime Minister’s special representative for Russia, and Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Grigory Karasin met in Prague on June 13, as part of informal, direct bilateral dialogue launched between the two countries in late 2012.
In its press release on June 14, the Georgian PM’s press office said that at the beginning of the meeting, Zurab Abashidze “focused on the grave human rights and humanitarian situation in Abkhazia and Tskhinvali region.”
He pointed at the “growing militarization of these regions, blatant violation of the norms of international law and the principles of territorial integrity and sovereignty of Georgia.”
According to the press office, importance of Geneva International Discussions – the multilateral forum to address security and humanitarian consequences of the Russo-Georgian War of August 2008 – was also emphasized.
Trade dynamics “positive”
Both sides reported after the meeting that the diplomats spoke about the dynamics of trade and economic relations, transport connectivity, and humanitarian issues.
According to the PM’s press office, particular attention was paid to protecting the interests of the Georgian companies engaged in above fields.
The Russian Foreign Ministry also reported on June 14 that the Russo-Georgian relations are currently based on cooperation in the spheres of trade and economy.
“Despite the certain slowdown in the growth of bilateral trade, Russia remains as the second largest trade partner for Georgia and the largest importer of Georgian products, and first of all wine,” the Russian foreign ministry said.
It also said that the volume of Georgian products is increasing on Russian market, transport cooperation is developing and that the sides will look into the possibility of further expand air traffic.
Implementation of the 2011 customs monitoring agreement, a Swiss-mediated agreement on Georgian-Russian cargo monitoring, was also discussed at yesterday’s meeting, as was the so called “Lugar Laboratory”, Georgian Health Ministry’s National Center for Disease Control and Public Health (NCDC), which become a target of Russia’s fake bio-warfare allegations.
U.S., NATO military actions ‘endanger stability’
The Russian Foreign Ministry stated that at the meeting Grigory Karasin underscored that “unfriendly rhetoric of some of the Georgian high-ranking officials is in sharp contrast with the above mentioned positive developments,” adding that “the military activities of NATO and United States in the region endanger stability,” and may have “a very negative impact” on Russo-Georgian relations in the future.
In an interview with the Georgian service of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty ahead of the meeting, Karasin said that the relations between Russia and Georgia “are not easy” because “the further we move from the deadlock of [Mikheil] Saakashvili’s period [of presidency], overcoming the difficulties and setting up normal relations between [our] people and nations,” the more nervous Washington and Brussels become.
“The nervousness in the West is first of all, caused by emerging normalisation of relations between Georgia and Russia. These people [in the West] consider that Georgia already is a member of a certain block, which can be relied upon in case of certain unfriendly actions against the Russian Federation, more so since South Caucasus is immediately bordering us. These people are getting active.”
Denouncing the U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s “open statements in support of Georgia’s accelerated accession into NATO,” Karaisn said, this would “fatally damage” relations between the two countries.
Karasin also said that the tone of Pompeo’s recent statement that Anaklia port and similar projects “will enhance Georgia’s relationship with free economies” and prevent the country “from falling prey to Russian or Chinese economic influence,” is not acceptable for Russia.
The Russian Foreign Ministry also said that the next meeting between Abashidze and Karasin is expected to take place in autumn, 2019.