It is Georgia’s sovereign right to sign the Association Agreement with the EU, but it should also understand possible consequences, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman, Alexander Lukashevich, said on May 22 and pointed at increasing Georgian exports to Russia.
He also said that country’s sovereign rights should be exercised without damaging the rights of others and mentioned Georgia’s NATO aspiration in this context, adding that Moscow was “alarmed” by Georgian Defense Minister’s recent remarks made in Washington.
Asked during a press conference in Moscow if upcoming signature of Georgia-EU Association Agreement can become a stumbling block in normalization of ties between Tbilisi and Moscow, Lukashevich responded: “We of course respect the right of any nation to choose its way and perspectives of joining this or that international format.”
But then he also added that in this particular context “it is very important to understand consequences to which the upcoming signing of the Association Agreement between Georgia and the EU on June 27 may lead.”
“It concerns both our bilateral [Russian-Georgian] relations and financial-economic consequences, which we will have to elaborate by taking into account Georgia’s joining the EU [Association] Agreement,” the Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman said.
He pointed out that Russia has recently become Georgia’s third largest trading partner, which, he suggested, is indicative of an important trend.
“While taking any step any state has to calculate not only benefits, which may be gained through interaction with any international organization, but also has to think about steps, which other countries having bilateral agreements with this state, will have to take,” Lukashevich said.
“It should also be remembered that the sovereign rights of any state have to be exercised without damaging the rights of others,” he continued. “For example, some politicians in Georgia aspire joining NATO at any cost without thinking that it may damage security of other states.”
“In this context we have been alarmed by statements made by Georgian Defense Minister [Alasania] in Washington, calling for deployment of American or NATO anti- missile systems in Georgia,” he said.
“In this regard questions inevitably arise towards Tbilisi about its real intentions and from whom these systems, if deployed, should protect the Georgian territory,” Lukashevich said.
Alasania said in Washington on April 30 that in response to Russia’s actions in Ukraine, NATO allies should deploy “defensive assets” in Georgia. He said that air defense and anti-armor capabilities are “something we need to put in Georgia and Russians will understand that you are serious.”
Speaking at a joint news conference after meeting in Brussels on May 21, Georgia’s PM Irakli Garibashvili and President of the European Commission José Manuel Barroso said that Moscow assured them it would not hinder signing of the Association Agreement between Georgia and the EU.
Asked about Russia in the context of upcoming signature of the agreement, the European Commission President responded that he and President of the European Council Herman Van Rompuy “explicitly” told Russia’s President Vladimir Putin, when the latter visited Brussels in January, “not to disturb” negotiations and agreements that the EU was preparing with Georgia. Barroso said that Putin “promised” that he would not.
“So we expect the Russian authorities to fully respect the sovereign right of Georgia to conclude the agreement with the European Union,” Barroso added.
Responding to the same question, PM Garibashvili said: “I am more than confident that we will sign the Association Agreement without any complications, without any problems.”
The Georgian PM also said that Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Grigory Karasin told Georgian special envoy for relations with Russia, Zurab Abashidze, that Moscow has no intention to interfere in the process of signing the Association Agreement between Georgia and the EU.
During the press conference in Moscow, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman also said on May 22 that Moscow is “quite satisfied with the results achieved” in frames of a dialogue between Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Grigory Karasin and Georgian PM’s special envoy for relations with Moscow Zurab Abashidze
He said that next meeting between Karasin and Abashidze is scheduled for July, but exact date has yet to be set.