Zurab Abashidze, Georgian Prime Minister’s special representative for Russia, and Russia’s Federation Council Senator Grigory Karasin held an online meeting on May 21, as part of the informal, direct bilateral dialogue launched between the two countries in late 2012.
Abashidze discussed the “worsening” humanitarian and security situation in the Russian-occupied Abkhazia and Tskhinvali Region/South Ossetia, and stressed that Georgian citizens detained arbitrarily in the regions should be released, according to the Georgian PM’s press office.
The press office also reported that the sides took note of “positive dynamics” in trade between Georgia and Russia as turnover increased by 20% year-on-year, following the COVID-19 pandemic-related downturn.
Continuing on the topic, the parties “expressed readiness” to support expert working groups’ activities and the implementation of the 2011 Swiss-mediated customs monitoring agreement on Georgian-Russian cargo, according to the report.
Russian Foreign Ministry stated that the positive tendencies in trade are contrasted with “openly unfriendly statements and steps” made by Georgian officials, “which prevents strengthening of practical interaction.”
The Russian side “noted the importance of preventing new provocations” against its citizens in Georgia, presumably referring to Tbilisi protests that erupted on March 31-April 1 against the visit of Russian-American journalist Vladimir Pozner, accompanied by other Russian media figures and celebrities.
The Russian Foreign Ministry said the sides welcomed the results of a discussion held in January on renovating the Larsi border crossing point, the only one legally operated between the two countries, and agreed to coordinate further steps to improve transport links.
According to the report, the Russian side also drew attention to “opportunities” for unblocking transport and economic ties in the region, following the joint statements of Russia, Azerbaijan, and Armenia on November 9, 2020, and January 11, 2021.
The next informal meeting will be held in the second half of 2021.
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