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Russia threatens trade
Friday, June 27
A day before Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine sign the association agreement (AA) with the EU, Russia made threats in terms of creating economic complications.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov stressed that Russia will take defensive measures against Georgia, Ukraine and Moldova, if the AA has negative consequences on the free trade zone of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS).

"As soon as the AA comes into force, we will analyze whether it affects the CIS free trade zone. If it does, Russia will take defensive steps under those conditions on which we have joined the WTO,” Lavrov stated, noting that the Russian side was ready for any kind of consultation and called on all parties to negotiate, if deemed necessary.

Georgian State Minister for European and Euro-Atlantic Integration Alexi Petriashvili commented that the statement made by Lavrov did not concern Georgia as the country is no longer a member of the CIS. However, the minister suggested that if Russia imposes an embargo on Georgian exported products the fact would not create significant problems for Georgia, as the European market is opening for the country through the signing of the AA.

Georgia’s Special Envoy to Russia Zurab Abashidze refrained from making a definite assessment. He states that suspending Georgian-Russian economic ties is unlikely. However, he did not rule out changes in Georgian-Russian trade relations after signing the AA.

“I will meet my Russian counterpart in Prague in July, before our meeting there will be a meeting between Georgian and Russian experts and they will discuss trade - economic issues and provide information regarding the Kremlin’s attitude over the topic,” Abashidze said.

Former Deputy Foreign Minister Nikoloz Vashakidze claims that imposing economic sanctions on Georgia by Russia will especially affect the Kakheti region. Vashakidze states that until 2012, Russia had no levers against Georgia. “However, the partial restoration of trade relations between Georgia and Russia after 2012 enabled Russia to have a certain lever again,” Vashakidze stated. He emphasized that imposing an embargo will not be a tragedy for the country’s economy, though it would be quite unpleasant for Kakheti region, which produces wine and has become dependent on the Russian market.

Parliamentary opposition UNM members are unanimous that nothing is excluded from Russia. They claim that the current Government has given a lever to Russia to make a certain influence on the Georgian economic field. According to them, the Russian market is too tied to politics and is entirely unreliable.