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Georgian, Russian diplomats meet in Prague

Monday, November 25
Georgian PM’s special envoy for relations with Russia, Zurab Abashidze, and Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Grigory Karasin met in Prague on November 21 for the fifth time since the launch of this format of negotiations almost a year ago.

The format was launched in December, 2012 to address issues related mainly with trade, economy, humanitarian and cultural aspects of bilateral relations.

For the first time since the launch of this negotiating format, the two diplomats made a joint appearance before journalists after the meeting on November 21.

“First of all today we noted that the epoch of maniacal enmity, instilled by the previous leadership of Georgia, is left behind,” Karasin told journalists.

“We hope constructive period of interaction and joint search for solutions lies ahead of us, which will be based on mutual respect of interests of the two countries,” he said.

“But there should be no inflated expectations about what we have already done and what we have to do in the future – illusions are the most dangerous for the relations,” Karasin said, adding that over-inflated expectations may cause disillusionment and “freezing of relations.”

“That’s exactly what we don’t want to happen,” he said. “We want everything to develop perhaps not so fast, but reliably.”

Karasin also said that Moscow was watching closely Georgia’s presidential campaign and election.

“We think that elections were held calmly, probably even too calmly, which represents a sound indicator for the Georgian society. Those statements which were made by Georgia’s new president were perceived positively by us,” Karasin said.

Zurab Abashidze said that Georgia’s new president Giorgi Margvelashvili and new PM Irakli Garibashvili support continuation of this dialogue.

He also reiterated that this format of negotiations do not touch upon issues representing “red lines” – Georgia territorial integrity and Georgia’s freedom of choice in foreign policy affairs.

After the meeting the two sides have also released separate written statements both of them noting positive dynamic in talks.

Abashidze said in his statement that with reopening of the Russian market for the Georgian products and positive trends in humanitarian, people-to-people contacts, most of the agenda items, laid out upon the launch of talks about a year ago, have already been addressed. Abashidze also said that ideas were exchanged at the meeting about issues that can be address “at the next stage” of this dialogue.

The two diplomats have agreed to hold next meeting either in March or February, 2014.

The Russian Foreign Ministry said in its statement: “In overall, constructive and amicable atmosphere of these meetings, held since December 2012, allows successful resolution of practical issues.”

The Russian Foreign Ministry also said that Moscow uses “flexible approach” in issuing visas to the Georgian citizens, which, it said, led to 40% year-to-year increase in number of visas granted to Georgians in 2013.