Georgian envoy to discuss trade issues during upcoming meeting with Russian deputy FM

  • The so-called Abashidze-Karasin meetings format was launched in 2012 and covers only humanitarian, trade and economic issues. Photo:, 20 May 2018 - 12:53, Tbilisi,Georgia

The next regular working meeting between the Georgian PM’s special representative for relations with Russia Zurab Abashidze and the Russian deputy foreign minister Grigory Karasin will be held on May 24 in Prague.

As Zurab Abashidze told  Georgian media today, the major topic of discussions will be the implementation of the 2011 Georgia-Russia agreement on neutral monitoring of customs which envisages the setting up of a mechanism of customs administration and the monitoring of regional trade by third parties. Russia and Georgia have agreed that Swiss company SGS will carry out the monitoring activities. 

According to the agreement, monitoring will cover three‘trade corridors’ between Russia and Georgia, including the border crossing points at the occupied territories of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, and the upper Lars border crossing area. The Swiss company will monitor cargo traffic for both sides and report to the government of Georgia and Russia at the same time. 

"Georgia signed the contract with the Swiss company at the end of last year, the Russian government did the same on May 18. We hope that Russia will honestly fulfill its obligations under the 2011 agreement,” Abashidze said, adding that a Georgian-Russian-Swiss joint working group could be set up to monitor the project’s practical implementation.

The so-called Abashidze-Karasin meetings in Prague are 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 issues. It does not touch upon politics. Political issues are mainly in focus of the Incident Prevention and Response Mechanism meetings where international negotiators facilitate talks between Georgia, Russia and the de-facto leadership of Abkhazia and Tskhinvali region, the two Georgian regions that are currently occupied by Russia.