Georgian PM’s special representative for relations with Russia Zurab Abashidze met Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Grigory Karasin in Prague on February 7, as part of the informal direct bilateral dialogue launched between the two countries in late 2012.
“The sides have reiterated readiness to continue mutually-beneficial course towards gradual improvement of bilateral relations,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said in its press release of the meeting.
Both sides reported that the diplomats spoke on the results of the two countries’ commercial and economic relations in 2016 and pointed at the growing bilateral trade and transport connections.
The Russian MFA stated “with satisfaction the increase in the intensity of humanitarian exchanges and contacts between the peoples” and in this respect, underlined doubling the visa issuance rate for Georgian citizens in 2016.
Moscow also said that its diplomat “confirmed” Russia’s willingness “to further simplify the visa regime” and added that it does not “rule out” visa waiver. “This also depends on the readiness of the Georgian authorities to do responsible work in this direction,” the statement said.
In its press release of the meeting, the Georgian PM’s office said that, during the meeting, Abashidze reiterated once again to his Russian interlocutor that Tbilisi finalized work on all the documents envisaged by 2011 WTO deal between the two countries on customs monitoring and added that Tbilisi “is expecting readiness from Russia to move on the implementation phase.”
The Russian Foreign Ministry repeated that the diplomats spoke on the agreement and added that the Russian Federation is ready for “its practical implementation.”
“The sides should not delay the practical implementation of this extremely necessary document for regional trade,” the Ministry statement reads.
According to Georgian PM’s office, Karasin “will try to accelerate the work on the agreement-related documents, together with the Swiss colleagues.”
Speaking to civil.ge, Zurab Abashidze said that he had “an impression” from the meeting that Moscow “is leaning towards concluding and implementing the agreement,” but added that “there is nothing concrete yet.” “Preparatory works need to be completed. We should wait for our Swiss colleagues, who will probably visit [Georgia] in March,” he stated.
Georgia agreed to give its go-ahead to Russia’s WTO membership only after Tbilisi and Moscow signed a Swiss-mediated agreement in November, 2011, envisaging putting in place sophisticated systems for tracking and auditing of cargo passing through breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.
Georgian PM’s office reported that Abashidze also talked on human rights violations in the occupied regions and raised the issue Giorgi Giunashvili, who was sentenced to 20 years of imprisonment by de facto South Ossetian authorities.
The Russian Foreign Ministry said that the next meeting between Abashidze and Karasin is expected in May, 2017.