Moscow is ready for intensifying "practical cooperation” with Georgia in 2018 and hopes for an "adequate response” from Tbilisi, says State Secretary and Deputy Foreign Minister of Russia Grigory Karasin.
Karasin talked about Russia-Georgia relations in an interview with the Russian newspaper Izvestia.
He said that in 2017 Russia became Georgia’s second largest trade partner and the trade turnover between the two countries increased by 30 percent.
He also stressed that currently the Zemo Larsi checkpoint is undergoing a major reconstruction, which will simplify land traffic between Georgia and Russia.
"We hope that in the upcoming new year, these positive trends will be maintained and progress further”, Karasin said.
He, however, added that "obvious challenges”, such as no diplomatic relations and difficult geopolitical trends in the South Caucasus, still exist.
The absence of diplomatic relations was what Zurab Abashidze, Georgian Prime Minister's Special Envoy for Relations with Russia, stressed in his interview with the same newspaper.
He said that "political relations between Georgia and Russia are still deadlocked”.
"In terms of economic relations, we have made significant steps, restoring trade and activating transport communications. The number of Russian tourists to Georgia is also increasing; in 2017, more than one million Russians visited Georgia. Russian citizens do not need a visa to travel to Georgia”, Abashidze said.
"Ahead of the New Year, there is always a desire to be optimistic, but political relations between Georgia and Russia are still deadlocked”, Abashidze said, adding that he wished for a solution to be found to this situation in the future.