Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Grigory Karasin criticized Georgia’s policies towards NATO and its occupied regions in his interview with Russian daily Izvestia newspaper published by the Russian Foreign Ministry website on June 29.
Karasin said he hoped his next meeting with Zurab Abashidze, Georgian PM’s special representative for relations with Russia, scheduled for early July, would “pass, as usually, in a business-like atmosphere,” but at the same time, he blasted Tbilisi for “getting closer” to NATO and for demonstrating “fundamental differences in the approaches towards political processes in the South Caucasus region.”
The Deputy Foreign Minister called it “regretful” that on the issue of cooperation with NATO “the position of the incumbent Georgian authorities does not differ from the position of [Mikheil] Saakashvili’s regime.”
“Three large-scale military exercises with participation of NATO member state units were held on the territory of Georgia last year. Operative military hardware transfers from Europe have been conducted for the second year already,” Karasin noted.
The Deputy Foreign Minister also mentioned the NATO Parliamentary Assembly’s recent declaration on Georgia, saying it “clearly demonstrated the interest of the Alliance towards Georgia and its desire to gain its foothold in the South Caucasus.”
Grigory Karasin added that Georgia’s cooperation with NATO “acquires the forms that actually make Tbilisi part of NATO’s containment policy towards the Russian Federation.”
On Abkhazia and Tskhinvali regions, Karasin pointed out that Tbilisi continued to speak of the occupation of its territories by the Russian Federation, instead of “establishing good-neighborly and equal dialogue with its neighbors – Abkhazia and South Ossetia.”
In the interview, Karasin also spoke of easing the visa regulations for citizens of Georgia, saying it would be “a hard task” in the absence of diplomatic relations, which was “severed upon the initiative of Georgia” and the prospects of its restoration “depends exclusively on Tbilisi as well.”