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Russia to Pursue “Normalization with Georgia” Despite Absence of Diplomatic Relations

In his interview with the Russian news agency TASS published on February 10, Deputy Foreign Minister of the Russian Federation Mikhail Galuzin said that “Russia intends to further facilitate the normalization of ties with Georgia” despite the absence of diplomatic relations, the restoration of which is “unfortunately…subject to political demands that contradict the new realities in the region.”

The Russian deputy Foreign Minister noted “the positive dynamics of trade and economic interaction” between two countries. According to him, “the difficult period” between Georgia and Russia, caused by “the well-known provocation of Georgian radicals in 2019” has been overcome “thanks to the pragmatism of the Georgian authorities.”

Galuzin highlighted the introduction of a visa-free regime for Georgian citizens, as well as the resumption of direct flights, both of which he claimed to have been “welcomed by the government and the vast majority of the Georgian population.” He also referred to Russia’s share in the Georgian tourism industry, which, according to him, amounts to a quarter of Georgia’s income from this sector.

As for the meetings between Zurab Abashidze, the Georgian Prime Minister’s Special Representative for Russia and Grigory Karasin, chairman of the Russian Federation Council’s Foreign Affairs Committee (the so-called Abahidze-Karasin format) Galuzin noted that “last full-format meeting” took place in November 2021. Since then the parties have maintained remote contacts which concern “in particular, the issues of uninterrupted functioning of the Georgian Military Highway, the only operating land artery between our countries.”

Tbilisi severed diplomatic ties with Moscow following Russia’s invasion of Georgia in 2008 and subsequent so-called recognition of “independence” of the occupied Abkhazia and Tskhinvali regions. The Abashidze-Karasin format was launched in December 2012 to address issues related to trade, economic, humanitarian and cultural aspects of bilateral relations – issues on which both Tbilisi and Moscow say it is possible to make progress. The launch of a direct dialogue with Russia, while it is still occupying Georgian territories, has often been criticized by the opposition.

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This post is also available in: ქართული (Georgian) Русский (Russian)


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