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Russia’s Karasin Says Moscow Wants Better Relations with Georgia in 2018

By Tea Mariamidze
Friday, December 29
(MOSCOW) – Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Grigory Karasin stated that Moscow hopes for more intense relationship with Georgia from 2018.

Karasin made the statement in his interview with media outlet Izvestia, adding Russia is ready for practical cooperation and hopes for “adequate reaction” from Georgia as well.

As Russian diplomat noted, the relationship between Tbilisi and Moscow improved since 2012, when ex-president Mikheil Saakashvili’s United National Movement (UNM) lost parliamentary elections, and Georgian Dream (GD) came to power.

Karasin expressed hope that normalization of Georgia-Russian relationship would continue, adding in 2017, Russia became Georgia’s second top trade partner.

“Bilateral trade turnover between the two countries has increased by more than 30%. Russia is one of the main export countries for Georgia, especially the main market for wine,” he said.

Russian diplomat noted that at present the reconstruction of Zemo Larsi checkpoint at the Russian-Georgian border is underway, adding it would simplify land movement between the countries.

"At the same time we are well aware of the existing difficulties, the absence of diplomatic relations and geopolitical tendencies in the South Caucasus region," Karasin told Izvestia.

The media outlet also quoted Georgian Prime Minister's Special Representative for Relations with Russia Zurab Abashidze, who said that political relationship between Georgia and Russia is still in deadlock.

Abashidze confirmed that economic cooperation between the two states has intensified, adding the number of Russian tourists to Georgia keeps growing every year.

“More than million Russian tourists visited Georgia in 2017. However, political relations between our countries remain complicated. We would like to see progress in this direction from New Year,” he added.

Tbilisi cut diplomatic ties with Moscow in 2008, after the five-day August war, which left 20% of Georgian territories occupied by Russia.

Since then Abashidze-Karasin meetings, established in 2012, constitute the first example of a direct dialogue between the two countries.