The Georgian Prime Minister's Special Envoy for Relations with Russia, Zurab Abashidze and the State Secretary and Deputy Foreign Minister of Russia, Grigory Karasin have met in Prague in what is the only format of direct Georgia-Russia dialogue.
Abashidze said that he opened the talks by mentioning the recent fact of creeping occupation where Russian occupation forces deployed in central Georgia moved the occupation line further into Georgian territory in the village of Bershueti earlier this week.
Abashidze said he expressed the position of the Georgian government regarding the matter but Karasin replied such topics are not for Prague meetings but for the Incident Prevention and Response Mechanism (IPRM) format in Geneva.
"It was made clear once again that we have absolutely opposed approaches regarding this issue”, Abashidze said following the meeting.
Abashidze-Karasin meeting in Prague is the only format of direct dialogue between Georgia and Russia since the two countries cut off their diplomatic ties after the 2008 war. The format was launched in late 2012 and covers only humanitarian, trade and economic related issues. It does not touch upon politics. Political issues are mainly in focus of the IPRM meetings where international negotiators facilitate talks between Georgia, Russia and de-facto leadership of Abkhazia and Tskhinvali region, the two Georgian regions that are currently occupied by Russia.
Earlier this week it was reported that Russian occupation forces deployed in Tskhinvali region moved the occupation line further into Georgian territory. They illegally placed a new so-called border sign in the village of Bershueti in the Gori Municipality, which saw about 10 more hectares of Georgian soil in the heart of the country become occupied by Russia.
Apart from this issue, today’s meeting between Abashidze and Karasin touched upon Russian-Georgian commercial and transportation relations. The sides exchanged views on the implementation of the 2011 agreement on the mechanism of customs administration and monitoring of regional trade.
The next meeting in Prague is scheduled for autumn.