Georgian Officials on Russia’s Dairy Import Permit
Georgian officials have seemingly refused to distance from Moscow’s decision to allow Georgian dairy import, defying Kyiv’s calls.
Agriculture, Economy Ministers Respond
“This is an opportunity for our companies to plan more production, work to their full capacity, and have specific plans in the longer term,” Agriculture Minister Otar Shamugia told reporters today.
The Agriculture Minister said the permit was a result of Georgia’s effort to diversify the export market for Georgian producers.
But the official said the Ministry-run National Food Agency kicked the process off in 2020, “on the basis of an address of specific companies.”
Minister Shamugia said Tbilisi had not initiated any “communication [with Moscow] after that, apart from the preparation and delivery of the documents that were required for this process.”
Grilled by a reporter over reported negotiations between the Heads of Russia’s Veterinary and Phytosanitary Supervision Agency and Georgia’s National Agency of Food, Sergey Dankvert, and Zurab Chekurashvili, the Agriculture Minister said the communication took place “a few months ago” with Russia’s initiative.
Economy Minister Levan Davitashvili, who was the Agriculture Minister in 2020, argued the “fuss” over the issue was “probably due to lack of information.”
Minister Davitashvili stressed that Tbilisi had not addressed Moscow during the war in Ukraine, and it was the Georgian companies that had directly appealed to the Russian regulator back in 2020.
GD’s Executive Secretary Reacts
Meanwhile, Executive Secretary of the Georgian Dream, Mamuka Mdinaradze stressed that the permit “cannot generate any excess exports of Georgian dairy products to Russia,” arguing that local producers are unable to even meet the domestic demand.
“Against the backdrop of our special attitude and relevant political and humanitarian support to Ukraine, separate negative statements by Ukrainian officials are even more regrettable,” said the GD leader, commenting on the criticism from Kyiv.
“During all these past years, Georgia maintained trade relations with Russia, just like Ukraine, for which Russia remained the main trading partner up until the first day of the war,” MP Mdinaradze noted.
He then went on to argue that it would be irrational to impose sanctions “which would have done no damage to Russia but created severe economic and social problems for Georgia’s populace.”
“We cannot punish our population with sanctions,” he stressed, adding that this would only benefit GD’s arch-rival, United National Movement, which has the sole purpose to “aggravate the situation in Georgia and to involve the country in the military conflict.”
The ruling party leader suggested that there were “political interests” behind the critical remark made by Ukrainian officials, and suggested the UNM could have been “the real initiator of the statements.”
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