Zurab Abashidze, Georgian PM’s special representative for relations with Russia, said on June 13 that Georgia has completed preparatory works for the implementation of the 2011 Swiss-mediated agreement between Tbilisi and Moscow on customs monitoring between the two countries.
“We have honestly completed all preparatory works. Now, it is up to the Russian side: the only thing hampering the work is that the Russian side should complete negotiations with the Swiss company,” Abashidze told Civil.ge, responding to the remarks of Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Grigory Karasin.
“I call on the Russian side to complete its work on the contract to be signed with the company,” Abashidze also said, referring to the Geneva-based SGS, the worlds leading testing and inspection company, which will carry out the monitoring.
Zurab Abashidze, who has been engaged in direct dialogue with Grigory Karasin since 2012, added that the next meeting between the two diplomats will tentatively be held in early July.
Foreign Minister Mikheil Janelidze commented on the matter as well, accusing the Russian Federation of “politicizing” the issue.
“Unfortunately, the Russian Federation has not yet completed its work on the contract that should be signed with the Swiss company SGS,” Janelidze told the joint parliamentary hearing of Foreign Relations and European Integration committees on June 13.
“Georgia has completed its work on the contract and we are now taking final steps through negotiations with the Swiss mediator,” he added.
“We hope that Russia will urge itself to finalize its work on the contract already in June and that the agreement will enter into force without any politicization and in full compliance with the agreement [text], for which the Georgian side is ready,” Janelidze concluded.
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 the deployment of sophisticated systems for tracking and auditing of cargo passing through Abkhazia and South Ossetia.
According to the agreement, “neutral private company” will carry out monitoring of cargo movement through three “trade corridors” two of which run through Abkhazia and South Ossetia and the third one on the Zemo Larsi-Kazbegi border crossing point on the undisputed section of Georgia-Russia border.
Monitoring should be carried out, among other means, also through the presence of company representatives at entry/exit points of these corridors, meaning that they will be present outside of the regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.