The messenger logo

“Not a bad” start with Russia

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Monday, December 17
The first meeting with the Russian representative “was not bad.” A statement concerning the issue was made by Georgia’s special Envoy to Russia, Zurab Abashidze. The meeting between Abashidze and Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Gregory Karasin was held in Geneva on December 15. The sides agreed on collaboration and the continuation of negotiations.

“The Russian and Georgian sides have opportunities to improve relations,” Karasin stated and underscored that the worsening of relations between the two states was created by the former Georgian government. According to the Deputy Foreign Minister, the main aspects of the initial negotiations will concern trade issues, flights and the cultural-humanitarian fields.

“Relations should be improved; however, Russia's interests should not be affected," Karasin emphasized. He added that there are intentions from both sides to find agreeable outcomes.

Abashidze stated that the meeting was held in a “business-like and constructive” environment. "We agreed that the meetings will be regular and discussed the technical aspects of the meeting format,” Abashidze stated.

Former Foreign Minister of Georgia Grigol Vashadze believes that even in the case that negotiations are concluded successfully, Georgia would have no guarantees that Russia will not misbehave. According to him, Russia might violate agreements if decides it does not like something concerning Georgia, even if it is not related with the agreement at all.

“I welcome the dialogue. However the dialogue should not be used against de- occupation,” Vashadze added.

Analyst in political issues and former official, Irakli Menagharishvili shares this view and underscores that Georgia requires “guarantees from the international community” during the negotiation process with Russia that the agreements will not be violated or interpreted.

Political analyst, Ramaz Sakvarelidze believes that international pressure over Russia concerning Georgia's occupied regions will continue anyway.

“In general, international pressure concerning Georgia's Russian-controlled regions has never been a serious obstacle. It is possible during the negotiations for the international community to decrease its complaints towards Russia over occupation. However, the international community will strongly control the process,” Sakvarelidze stated.

He also underscored that the territorial integrity issue will not be discussed with Russia in the first stages.

“The issue will be postponed for a later discussion. However, the restoration of economic, cultural-humanitarian and flights are not small…” Sakvarelidze suggested.

Analyst, Nika Chitadze, thinks that Russia might demand something other than improved relations.

“Like a change in Georgia’s foreign course… Georgian interests should be very much foreseen during the negotiation process,” Chitadze said.

Fellow analyst, Kakha Gogolashvili is sure that the launching of negotiations will enable Russia to reduce international criticism it receives regarding Georgia.

According to Russian political analyst, Aleksey Vlasov, Russia is ready to cooperate with Georgia but only pending some conditions– specifically, if Georgia is to permanently give up its claim to Abkhazia and S. Ossetia.