Swedish Foreign Ministry: “Not necessary” for EU to be involve in Georgia-Russia talks

Georgian and Swedish Foreign Ministers in Tbilisi on June 30, 2014. Photo by Georgian MFA
Agenda.ge, 01 Jul 2014 - 12:07, Tbilisi,Georgia

Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt does not believe it is necessary for the European Union (EU) to be involved in a Georgia-Russia meeting about the possible impacts of the Association Agreement (AA).

Georgian and Russian Government representatives are set to meet in Prague next week to discuss the changed state of affairs following Georgia’s signing of the AA, which includes the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area (DCFTA) agreement with the EU last week.

At a joint press conference with Georgian Foreign Minister Maia Panjikidze in Tbilisi yesterday, Bildt was asked if he believed it was necessary for the EU to be involved in the trade talks meeting between Georgia and Russia and impacts of AA.

The Swedish Foreign Minister responded: "Not necessarily, but that’s in the hands of Georgia”.

Georgia’s Foreign Minister said the meeting between Georgian and Russian Government officials will be "purely technical”. She said discussions will be held on the new conditions brought by the DCFTA and other issues related to Georgia-Russia bilateral trade will also be spoken about.

The consultation meeting would take place on June 7, two days before special representatives of the Georgian Government Zurab Abashidze meets special envoy to the Russian Government Grigory Karasin.

"More such meetings will follow if need be and EU representatives will also participate if necessary,” Panjikidze said.

A few days ago Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Russia was ready for consultation talks with Georgia, Ukraine and Moldova, who each signed AA documents with the EU earlier this week.

In a statement on June 26, Lavrov said: "As soon as the AA comes come into force, we will analyse whether it adversely affects the CIS free trade zone [and if it does] Russia will take defensive steps on those conditions, on which we have joined the World Trade Organization.”

Meanwhile, Abashidze was confident that there would not be any "dramatic” change in bilateral trade between Georgia and Russia.

Trade turnover between Georgia and Russia has increased considerably in the past year due to the removal of an embargo on imports of agricultural products, which was issued in 2012.

Georgia’s bilateral trade with Russia increased 35.4 percent in the first five months of 2014 compared to the same period of last year, state statistics office Geostat reported.

With revenue reaching $303.6 million USD, Russia has become Georgia’s fourth largest trading partner after Turkey, Azerbaijan and China, in the reported period.

Imports from Russia increased only by 1 percent, while Georgia’s exports grew from USD $30.9 million USD in the first five months of 2013 to $108.38 million USD in the same period of this year.

The increase is mostly due to increased exports of Georgian wine and mineral water to Russia.