Grigory Karasin sums up the results of the year for Georgia, Central Asia and Ukraine
The Deputy of Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, Secretary of State Grigory Karasin, summed up the results of the year, telling about the establishment of cooperation with Georgia, about Russia's policy in Central Asia and about the situation in Ukraine.
Speaking about relations with Georgia, the diplomat reminded about significant improvements in them. "In fact, the change of government in Georgia in late 2012 made it possible to take joint steps in the direction of gradual improvement of bilateral relations, which Russia has always sought. Within the framework of an informal dialogue, in two years we have met eleven times with the Special Envoy of the Prime Minister of Georgia Abashidze. Open and pragmatic discussion of topical issues led to very tangible results – bilateral trade revived, regular air and road communication restored, humanitarian and business relations intensified. These days, in order to further facilitate contacts between the peoples of our countries, by the decision of the President of Russia, the visa regime for the citizens of Georgia has been substantially liberalized," Interfax quoted him as saying.
"We hope that the new leadership of the Georgian government will continue the policy of improvement of bilateral relations. We are ready for this," the deputy minister stressed.
As for Central Asia, according to him, the region is a special vector of Russia's state policy, that becomes obvious when you look at the statistics: in the past year, Vladimir Putin held 25 meetings with the heads of various countries of Central Asia, there were 19 meetings at the highest level.
"The significant thing for the development of the Central Asian countries is their share of trade with Russia. Its volume is about 30 billion dollars. As you know, China is quickly "catching up" with us, but trade with Russia is still highly structured. Our multi-billion dollar investments in the region are not limited to the fuel and energy complex (it accounts for only about 47% of Russian capital investments). About 20% of our investments are in nonferrous metallurgy, about 15% in telecommunications," the deputy minister said.
The diplomat reminded that in the past year the project of the Eurasian Economic Union was implemented, and then Kyrgyzstan joined it. "Coupled with the CIS Free Trade Zone, it provides an opportunity for Central Asian countries to improve access to nearer markets with a capacity of more than 182 million consumers," he stressed.
Karasin admitted that due to the unfavorable economic situation in the world, the trade turnover between the countries of the EAEU slightly decreased due to currency fluctuations and a reduction of cost indexes of trade. But, according to him, the situation could be more difficult if there were no barrier-free trade relations.
In Ukraine's case it becomes, according to the diplomat, more evident for foreign partners, but, unfortunately, not for Kiev, that it is neccesery to strengthen the political dialogue, which is essential for the sustainable settlement of the crisis in Ukraine. "In this sense, everything still depends on Kiev, no one can replace it, not Berlin, or Paris, or Moscow. This is work that Ukrainian politicians must do themselves," he stressed.
He noted that Russia has emerged with a higher level of participation in the Contact Group and will, as far as possible, promote the Minsk process, but the main things, though, depend on the Ukrainian authorities