Georgian PM’s Russia economic envoy explains 2022 traffic conversation with counterpart

  • Zurab Abashidze has served as the Georgian Prime Minister’s Special Representative in Relations with Russia since 2013. Photo: Government press office, 2 Feb 2023 - 13:32, Tbilisi,Georgia

Zurab Abashidze, the Georgian Prime Minister’s Special Representative in Relations with Russia, on Wednesday confirmed he had held a prone conversation with Grigory Karasin, the Chair of Russia’s Federation Council Committee on Foreign Affairs, last year over topics of traffic on the border crossing between the countries, explaining the discussion following the release of its recording by the anonymous YouTube channel Cyber Kmara.

In the recording, released on the channel earlier during the day, Abashidze and Karasin, who have held meetings since the restoration of trade and economic ties between their countries in 2013, were heard discussing traffic matters at the Russia-Georgia border. 

In comments on the recording to Rustavi 2, the Georgian envoy confirmed its authenticity but added the questions discussed were part of the existing format of talks between the two officials.

He told the channel the phone conversation had taken place in mid-June 2022, after traffic jams on regional border sections, caused by increased crossings following the start of Russia’s war in Ukraine, had created problems for countries of the South Caucasus.

We had the conversation in the month of June, on the 21st or 22nd. Then the situation was very complicated on the border. Thousands of cars were jammed on both sides. We were involved as much as possible, our neighbouring Armenia was worried, their representative had also arrived. The call served the goal to ease the situation”, Abashidze said, noting “there are two sides to the border - ours and theirs, so someone has to talk about it, that is why the Prague format was launched”. 

Georgia and Russia suspended their diplomatic ties following the 2008 war but have resumed trade and economic talks since 2013.