Georgian-Russian dialogue shows progress, both parties agree

As Zurab Abashidze points out, it would be desirable to reach the same progress in Geneva talks., 22 Nov 2013 - 00:00, Tbilisi,Georgia

The Georgian Prime Ministers Special Representative for Relations with Russia, Zurab Abashidze and Russian Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Grigory Karasin held the 5th meeting in Prague yesterday where the results  of a one year long dialogue were summarized. The parties have noted that a large part of the agenda is practically completed.

"In particular, as a result of our joint effort, alcoholic drinks, mineral waters and agricultural products from Georgia returned to the Russian market. Hopefully, export will be entirely restored this year. We have also discussed the issue of simplification of visa regime with Russia for Georgian citizens and taken note that Russian side is going to take some steps in this context, Abashidze said in his official letter about the issues discussed with Karasin.

Russian citizens already enjoy visa free regime in Georgia and the number of Russian tourists during 10 months this year has increased by 50 percent compared to last year. Total number of Russian tourists travelling to Georgia was 660 thousand this year. Abashidze says these results are somewhat due to the bilateral dialogue and less confrontational situation between the two countries.

Maniacal hostility which was brewed by the former government is in the past, Grigori Karasin told journalists after the meeting. He said that the parties are in front of a constructive period for seeking solutions, which will be based on the interests of both parties.

"This will be based on respect for the rules, care for people, humanitarian ties, and taking reciprocal steps to resolve economic and social issues and get involved with international activities together," - Karasin said.

As Zurab Abashidze points out, it would be desirable to reach the same progress in Geneva talks.

"From our side, everything is done for this. We have confirmed that the new Prime Minister and the new president will support the continuation of our dialogue. Herewith, I have to point out the important role played by Bidzina Ivanishvili in the beginning of this dialogue," - Abashidze said.

With the initiative of the former Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili and agreement of Russian government, the Georgian-Russian direct dialogue started in December of last year. In the framework of this dialogue, issues such as trade, transport, humanitarian and cultural affairs are discussed between the parties.