Meeting of Georgian PM’s special representative for relations with Russia Zurab Abashidze and Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Grigory Karasin in Prague on March 1 was “constructive”, which made it possible to make progress on “number of practical issues,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said.
“It was noted [during the meeting], that positive developments have taken place in number of areas in relationship between the two countries in recent months. High level contacts have taken place. President of the Russian Federation received Georgian Patriarch Ilia II. Georgian and Russian Prime Minister met briefly in Davos. A meeting between Georgian and Russian parliamentarians was held in Strasbourg [on a sideline of session of Parliamentary Assembly of Council of Europe]. These developments have created positive atmosphere necessary for resolving practical issues of bilateral relations,” Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement on March 2.
“A group of experts from [Russia’s state consumer protection agency] RosPotrebNadzor visited Georgia in late February to study conditions for resumption of export of [Georgian] wines and mineral waters [to Russia]. [The two diplomats] have exchanged views on land and air transportation,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said, adding that an agreement “to restore intensive operation” of Zemo Larsi-Kazbegi border crossing point between the two countries was “noted with satisfaction”.
It also said “possibility of easing existing visa regime” for the Georgian citizens was also discussed. Georgia unilaterally lifted visa rules for the Russian citizens in late February, 2012.
“Mutual interest for establishing more active contacts in science and healthcare have been expressed,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said.
“It was stressed during the conversation, that meetings in this format do not touch upon set of issues which are being discussed at the Geneva Discussions on security and stability in the Trans-Caucasus,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said, adding that Geneva talks are important format, including for providing predictability of situation in this region.
“It has been agreed that issues related to upcoming 2014 Sochi Olympic Games would be discussed by national Olympic Committees of the two countries,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said. Georgia’s government has announced that Georgia would take part in Winter Olympic Games in Sochi next year.
The Russian Foreign Ministry said that the next meeting between Abashidze and Karasin would take place either in late May or in June.
The meeting in Prague was the second between the two diplomats after Georgia’s new government announced about its intention to mend ties with Russia. The first meeting was held in Switzerland in on December 14.
Abashidze said on March 1 that during the talks in Prague the both sides noted that since their first meeting “practical steps have been undertaken in respect of trade relations, which should contribute to resumption of Georgian export to the Russian market.”
“In parallel, work is underway on restoring transportation links, in particular restoration of regular flights,” Abashidze said.
“The Russian side is considering easing existing visa regime” for the Georgian citizens, he said.
Abashidze said that possible easing of visa rules would probably apply to “certain categories”; he, however, also said that no timeframe of when it might happen had been specified during the talks.
Abashidze also said that science and healthcare were identified as two additional areas, which should become part of discussions in frames of this bilateral dialogue.
“Importance of Geneva Discussions and the necessity to continue these Discussions in frames of internationally agreed format has been stressed during the meeting,” Abashidze said.