Russia helps Georgia to get closer to Europe

Dialogue between Georgia and Russia has contributed to a certain extent to the implementation of a successful European project, the Georgian prime minister’s special representative for relations with Russia, Zurab Abashidze, said at the conference titled '25th anniversary of confrontation and cooperation: Georgian-Russian relations and other models of relations', which was held in Tbilisi.

"The fact that we have communications and an informal dialogue with Russia in a certain part contributes to the implementation of our European project," he stressed.

"Our European colleagues always tell us about it," RIA Novosti cited the Georgian prime minister's special representative for relations with Russia.

On February 27, the Council of Europe approved visa-free travel for Georgian citizens. It will come into force 20 days after the publication of the document signed by the heads of the Council of the EU and the European Parliament.

In August 2008, Georgia severed diplomatic relations with Russia in response to Moscow's recognition of the independence of South Ossetia and Abkhazia. At the moment, the dialogue between the two countries is held in the framework of the Geneva discussions and regular meetings between the representative of the Georgian Prime Minister for relations with Russia, Zurab Abashidze, and the Deputy Foreign Minister Grigory Karasin in Prague.

The head of the Center for Global Studies, Nana Devdariani, speaking to Vestnik Kavkaza, stressed that there is indeed an indirect benefit from a dialogue with Russia for Georgia's European integration. "Our European friends understand perfectly well that Georgia's urgent problems cannot be resolved without a dialogue with Russia. And it is not entirely clear what can be considered the actual promotion to Europe - I personally do not think that a visa-free regime with the European Union is a serious achievement," she noted.

Nana Devdariani explained that this event will not be followed by any integration of Georgia into the Euro-Atlantic structures, and the West is only interested in the fact that the republic has no confrontation with Russia.

The head of the Center for Security Studies and International Relations of Georgia, Nika Chitadze, on the contrary, pointed to a different Russia's role in the rapprochement of Georgia with Europe. "The rapprochement between Georgia and Europe has began after the war in 2008, as the EU, the IMF, the World Bank and other structures allocated $4.5 billion for Georgia at the Brussels conference. "The Eastern Partnership program was approved in 2009. Therefore, Georgia's rapprochement with Europe was rather due to the complications of its relations with Russia, "he said.

At the same time, the expert noted the positive impact of the restoration of humanitarian and economic ties between Georgia and Russia. "This fact can only be welcomed. In 2016, Russia was the third among Georgia's major foreign trade partners, several million Russians visit various Georgian regions every year. Our relations in tourism and trade are developing positively, "Nika Chitadze said, adding, that Georgia's interaction in the Euro-Atlantic area and in the Russian direction will continue to run in parallel.

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