Zurab Abashidze, Georgian Prime Minister’s special representative for Russia, and Russia’s former Deputy Foreign Minister Grigory Karasin met in Prague on November 28, as part of the informal direct bilateral dialogue launched between the two countries in late 2012.
Russian Foreign Ministry (MFA) reported today that at the meeting Karasin and Abashidze “confirmed mutual readiness” of finding ways to overcome “an uneasy situation” in Russia-Georgia relations, following the “well-known developments in Tbilisi in June-July.”
According to the Russian MFA, the trade turnover between the two countries has decreased 12 percent in first eight months of 2019 (year-on-year), however, Russia “remains the second largest trading partner of Georgia and the largest importer of Georgian products, especially wine.”
The Russian MFA also noted that following the “introduction of compulsory measures for ensuring security of Russian citizens,” amid anti-Russian-occupation demonstrations in Tbilisi, which were triggered by Russian MPs visit to the country, “tourist flow from Russia to Georgia continues to decrease monthly.”
“The Russian side noted it is important that Tbilisi would learn a lesson from the [June’s] developments and use more responsible approach to re-building relations with Moscow,” the statement reads, adding that this would “pave the way to continuation of normalization of the process, including the opportunity to restore flights between the two countries.”
At the yesterday’s meeting the Russian and Georgian diplomats spoke of implementation of the 2011 customs monitoring agreement, a Swiss-mediated agreement on Georgian-Russian cargo monitoring as well. The Russian MFA said, the parties agreed “not to politicize” discussions in order to “regulate the disputed issues and start practical realization of the agreement in strict accordance to its terms.”
Georgian doctor’s detention in Tskhinvali
Zurab Abashidze announced ahead of his meeting, that the recent detention of Georgian doctor Vazha Gaprindashvili by the occupation forces in Tskhinvali Region/South Ossetia, would be among the key issues on his agenda.
“This person should be released as soon as possible and return to his family. This is our demand,” Abashidze told Georgian journalists ahead of the meeting in Prague yesterday.
He also said that although the issues related to occupied territories are usually addressed at the Geneva International Discussions (GIDs), he would anyway use any opportunity to raise these issues during the meeting in Prague as well.
On its part, the Russian MFA said following the meeting that the Russian diplomat has informed Abashidze that he would “contribute to positive solution of this issue.”
Georgia’s relations with NATO, U.S.
Russia’s former Deputy FM again noted that Georgia’s military cooperation with NATO and the United States “remains a serious irritant for bilateral relations” between Russia and Georgia. He also called on Tbilisi to use its six-month presidency of the Council of Europe (CoE) Commitee of Ministers “for developing constructive interaction with Russia.”
The Russian Foreign Ministry announced that the next meeting between Abashidze and Karasin is expected to take place in March 2020.