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Russian-Georgian special envoys meet amid opposition criticism

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Friday, July 10
Another meeting between Georgian Prime Ministerís Special Representative for Relations with Russia Zurab Abashidze and Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Grigory Karasin will be held in Prague on July 15.

This was confirmed by Zurab Abashidze. The Russian Foreign Ministry reports that Karasin and Abashidze held a phone conversation and discussed preparatory issues for the Prague meeting.

The meeting will be held in an enlarged format, and apart from the Foreign Affairs Ministry, the Ministry of Economy of Georgia will also participate in it, while the Russian side will be represented by the Ministry of Transport.

The Abashidze-Karasin format was introduced after the 2012 parliamentary elections, when then Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili appointed Zurab Abashidze as Georgiaís special envoy to Russia and decided to improve relations with Russia.

Georgia suspended diplomatic relations with Russia following the August War in 2008. Georgian Dream leaders were determined to launch reconciliation steps through talks that focus on economic and trade issues.

Initially, the meetings resulted in positive developments. Georgian wine and mineral waters returned to the Russian market, as well as some other agricultural products. There was speculation and that the talks would put a stop to Russiaís aggressive steps towards Georgia.

However, this scenario did not materialize. On the contrary, Russia has intensified its policy in the de-facto regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Russia signed a treaty on Alliance and Partnership with the de-facto republics of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

The opposition United National Movement has been very harsh to the criticism of Abashidze-Karasin talks. The opposition parties believe Russia is the only side to benefit from the Prague format.