Georgian products destined to return to Russia, says Minister
By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Thursday, March 25The reopening of the Russian market is inevitable as demand for Georgian products is significant there, Minister of Agriculture Bakur Kvezereli said on March 24 while meeting local farmers in Kutaisi.
“The Russian market will be necessarily reopened, as it needs Georgian products. For example there is a significant demand for Georgian vegetables. The Ministry will help farmers export their products to Europe. There is a farmers association in the country, in which all regional farmers can participate, which will help them improve their production and sell it to different foreign markets,” Kvezereli said.
The Government has made several recent statements about the return of Georgian goods to the Russian market. The day before Kvezereli’s meeting with the farmers the President said in a statement, "It is very possible that Georgian production will return to the Russian market in the near future, even without the removal of the embargo placed on Georgian prodcuts by the Russian Government. But the country should not only be oriented on the Russian market and we should continue entering new foreign markets and working to achieve this,” his statement said.
Some opposition politicians and analysts have connected the Government making these statements with some kind of hidden negotiations taking place between the Georgian and Russian Governments. "When the Government makes such statements this must mean there are secret meetings going on between the two countries’ authorities. No one is against such positive moves or holding negotiations with Russia, on the contrary, holding talks with different Governments on issues affecting the country is the duty of any regime. I appeal to the Government to conducts these talks and agreements with Russia openly, especially when opening this market is in Georgia’s interests and necessary for our economy,” Manana Nachkebia from the New Rights told The Messenger.
Conservative Kakha Kukava said that if the market is reopened this will be a great victory for the National Council (the Conservatives, People’s Party, Movement for Fair Georgia, Christian Georgia, Party of the Future and Patriots Party). "The National Council was the first group which started talking about the importance of improving relations with Russia through negotiations and agreements, and we gained such support from the Georgian public that the Government has had to change its policy. Kvezereli’s statement that reopening its market is in Russia's interests first of all can be considered inadequate, as there is no product deficit and opening this market is in Georgia's economic interest rather than Russia's,” Kukava told The Messenger.
Analyst Mamuka Areshidze said that the existence of secret negotiations between the Georgian Russian authorities is obvious and can be confirmed by certain facts. "That negotiations are taking place was confirmed by the Larsi checkpoint reopening. I am not against its opening, merely concerned about the risks it bore, but such serious decisions are never made without signing a document and the Government should show the public what document it has signed to get the checkpoint reopened. If the Russian market is opened it will be one more sign that there are negotiations going on, which should be public not hidden. There really might be some demand for Georgian wine or other products on the Russian market, but Russia is not much affected by their absence," Areshidze told The Messenger.