Zurab Abashidze: "Karasin-Abashidze format replaces full-fledged Russia-Georgia diplomatic relations"
The next meeting of the Deputy Foreign Minister of Russia, Grigory Karasin, with the Special Representative of the Prime Minister of Georgia for Relations with Russia, Zurab Abashidze, will take place In Prague on July 7. The representatives of the transport departments of the both countries will also participate in the negotiations. On the eve of the event, Vestnik Kavkaza talked with Zurab Abashidze about the results of the five-year humanitarian dialogue between Russia and Georgia, and the agenda of the July meeting in Prague.
- First of all, Zurab Iraklievich, what will be the agenda of your meeting with Grigory Karasin on July 7?
- In general, the practical agenda of our meetings persist from year to year: there are trade, economic, transport and humanitarian issues. This meeting will be dedicated to the same topics, since a certain amount of problems regularly accumulates in these areas. The fact is that there are no diplomatic relations between Russia and Georgia and the full-fledged diplomatic missions do not function, therefore, two of us solve all such issues.
At this meeting, I hope to receive the final answer on the intergovernmental agreement on the customs monitoring, which was signed in 2011. We reaffirm our readiness to sign the relevant documents in order to begin the implementation of this agreement, and we are waiting for the same from the Russian side. It is also desirable to determine the dates of signing these documents in order to have a clear idea of the transition to the next stage of the implementation of the agreement. Let me remind you that in 2011 an intergovernmental agreement was signed, providing an invitation of a neutral Swiss company to monitor the movement of goods and customs procedures between Georgia and Russia. All this time we have been working on the preparation of the relevant contracts, which must be signed both by the Georgian and Russian side. A year ago the Georgian text of the contract was written, we informed about this both the Russian side and our Swiss colleagues. Now we are waiting for a confirmation from Russia that it is also ready to sign a contract.
- How do you assess the results of the five-year regular work on the economic and humanitarian issues with Grigory Karasin?
- There is a certain progress on our track, a number of steps has been taken in terms of restoring trade and economic ties. The trade exchange is expanding, the transport communications, both terrestrial and aviation, have been restored. A number of Russian tourists in Georgia is growing: the last year about a million of Russians visited the Georgian resorts, this year we expect that there will be even more of them. As for the most difficult problems of the Russian-Georgian relations, there is no progress, but these issues are discussed not at our meetings in Prague, but in the format of the Geneva discussions.
- What other questions not related to politics would Georgia like to solve with Russia?
- We are interested in resolving of the humanitarian issue, concerning persons who serve different terms of punishment on charges of spying for Georgia. We have already managed to release eight our citizens, and we can positively resolve a number of other cases in this direction. The nuances of this issue will also be discussed with Grigory Karasin on July 7.
- Should we expect an expansion of the format of economic and humanitarian negotiations between Russia and Georgia?
- For several years the representatives of transport departments of Georgia and Russia have been taking part in our meetings with Grigory Karasin, we have been working in this format since 2013-2014. As for the further expansion of the format of the negotiations, I can not say anything about this yet. Let's see how things will proceed.