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Changes in the law on Occupied Regions possible

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Tuesday, December 18
Some changes can be carried out in the law on Occupied Regions. A statement concerning the issue was made by Georgia’s Special Envoy to Russia, Zurab Abashidze on December 17. Abashidze also touched upon Georgian products' return to the Russian market stating that the issue is quite risky.

“I can not change the law on the Occupied Regions. However, if there are some perspectives and positives in the two countries’ relations, some elements of the law might be changed in the case they disturb progress in relations,” Abashidzde said.

The envoy also emphasized that the visa regime Russia has established with Georgia is not adequate.

“It is our aim that the process will be liberalized. Russia should not have complaints towards Georgia concerning the issue. As for Russian citizens, the procedure on Georgian border requires only 5 minutes,” Abashidze stated.

Abashidze figures that the Georgian government cannot provide guarantees to Georgian businessmen that the Russian market will not be closed. According to him, the Russian side has expressed its wish concerning the return of Georgian wines and mineral waters.

“Various Georgian organizations responded to this wish as well. However, we are waiting for more concrete and detailed information from the Russian side. Currently we can not give guarantees to Georgian business that they will have no problems in the future,” Abashidze said, adding that the restoration of economic relations with Georgia is Russia's “obligation” as well, as mandated by membership in the World Trade Organization.

According to minority MP, Pavle Kublashvili, there is no need of changes in the law on Occupied Regions.

In response Abashidze highlighted that the Georgian side will not be able to avoid the issue. However, if negotiations are launched with the issue of occupied regions the process will be complicated.

Head and founder of the Georgian Reform Association and former official, Elene Khoshtaria, consider that through the negotiation process Russia is trying to weaken the format of the Geneva talks.

Abashidze underscored that the Georgian side is going to strengthen the Geneva talks through direct dialogue.

The Georgian majority welcomes positive steps with Russia and is ready to discuss the issues suggested by the Georgia’s Special envoy to Russia.

According to Russian civil society representative and editor-in -chief of the magazine Russia in Global Politics, Fiodor Lukianov, the current process between Georgia and Russia is positive. However, situation still not be swiftly changed.

“Georgian Products will go back on the Russia market. However, making investments in Georgian markets will be possible if some interest emerges in Russia,” Lukianov stated.

According to analyst in conflict issues, Mamauka Areshidze, the restoration of relations with Russia is important. However, the Georgian side should be very careful and should not change its course from the west to the north.