What could be the reaction of the Georgian Foreign Ministry to the Russian Foreign Ministry’s message
Let’s start with the message itself.
About the meeting in the format of videoconference of Senator of the Russian Federation G.B. Karasin with the Special Representative of the Prime Minister of Georgia Z. Abashidze
Message from the media
On November 27, within the framework of the current Russian-Georgian informal dialogue mechanism, Senator of the Russian Federation G.B. Karasin held a videoconference meeting with the special representative of the Prime Minister of Georgia Z. Abashidze. It was attended by representatives of the Foreign Ministry and Ministries of Transport of both countries.
In the context of the discussion of regional issues, the importance of the adoption of the Statement of the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan, the Prime Minister of the Republic of Armenia and the President of the Russian Federation dated November 9, 2020, which made it possible to stop hostilities and create conditions for stabilizing the situation in the zone of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, was noted. The implementation of these trilateral agreements, in particular, on unblocking transport communications and economic ties, opens up new opportunities for all Transcaucasian states, including Georgia.
A thorough exchange of views took place on a number of practical issues in bilateral relations. Mutual disposition was confirmed to overcome the negative consequences of the well-known anti-Russian provocation staged by Georgian nationalists in the summer of 2019. We hope that the Russophobic rhetoric actively used by radical circles during the election campaign will remain in the past, and that the political forces that won the parliamentary elections will use the mandate of voters’ trust they have received to help continue the process of normalizing bilateral relations.
An overview of the Russian-Georgian trade and economic relations was carried out. Despite the political environment and difficulties associated with the pandemic of the new coronavirus infection, Russia remains Georgia’s second most important foreign trade partner and a major importer of Georgian products, primarily wine.
Possibilities of increasing the number of permits for freight road transportation provided by the parties on a bilateral basis were discussed. The prospects for the restoration of air traffic between the two countries were touched upon, taking into account the temporary ban on air passenger transportation to Georgia introduced in July last year. The conditions for this are well known: an end to anti-Russian manifestations in Georgia and the disappearance of security threats for Russian citizens. In addition, the sanitary and epidemiological situation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic should return to normal in both countries.
Prospects for the implementation of the Russian-Georgian intergovernmental agreement on the mechanism of customs administration and monitoring of trade in goods of November 9, 2011 were considered. An understanding was reached on the need to continue the non-politicized discussion in order to settle the remaining controversial issues and begin the practical implementation of the Agreement.
The Russian side confirmed its readiness for constructive cooperation with Georgian partners on the issue of combating the spread of COVID-19 in our countries, including through the use of vaccines under development. At the same time, G.B. Karasin pointed to the remaining concerns in connection with military biological activities at the Lugar National Health Center located in the suburbs of Tbilisi, urging the Georgian side to ensure that Russian specialists visit this facility.
the response to groundless claims against Russia, as well as our Abkhaz and South Ossetian partners regarding the so-called “borderisation” and “illegal detentions” indicated that it was about ensuring the safety of people. They emphasized the need to stop provocations and illegal crossings of the state border by Georgia, resolve emerging issues in a constructive manner within the framework of the International Geneva Discussions on Security and Stability in the Caucasus and the Incident Prevention and Response Mechanisms operating under their auspices.
Mutual interest was indicated in resolving problems with Georgian diplomatic real estate in Moscow and Russian diplomatic real estate in Tbilisi on the basis of the principle of reciprocity.
An agreement was reached to hold the next meeting of G.B. Karasin and Z. Abashidze in the first quarter of 2021 – if the sanitary and epidemiological situation allows, then in full-time format in Prague.
And now about what the comment could be:
- The unblocking of transport communications and economic ties opens up new opportunities for all Transcaucasian states, including Georgia – we are talking about the railway through Abkhazia, the arguments why the opening of this road directly threatens the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Georgia are well known. Talking that the opening of a railway communication through the occupied Abkhazia is beneficial to Georgia, they are puzzling. How is it profitable? If someone names even one reason why Georgia should go to the opening of this road, I will listen with great interest. However, I doubt that such reasons exist. And the call for a non-politicized discussion of the issue of opening a transport corridor through the occupied territory looks just cynical.
- The well-known anti-Russian provocation organized by Georgian nationalists in the summer of 2019 – common sense tells us that the provocation was staged by those who made the deputy of the State Duma of the Russian Federation in the chair of the speaker of parliament. Let me remind you that the Russian Federation is occupying two regions of Georgia (Abkhazia and the so-called South Ossetia), the “recognition” of these regions violates the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Georgia, there are no diplomatic relations between the Russian Federation and Georgia. Whether those who made the speaker of the Georgian parliament Sergei Gavrilov were Georgian nationalists and Russophobes, I don’t know, maybe they are. But the Russian Foreign Ministry did not mean them at all. In fact, there is another problem here, in Moscow they really do not see the real reasons for the reaction of the Georgian society, and they consider what happened on this issue to be simply a provocation of certain political forces, and not a reaction of the Georgian society.
- Regarding the temporary ban on air passenger transportation to Georgia and threats to the safety of Russian citizens, let’s start with the ban, when introduced, much was said about the catastrophic consequences for Georgia from this ban. As many Georgian experts predicted, no disaster happened, 2019 was a record year for the number of tourists in Georgia. Moreover, as a result of this ban, Georgia as a tourist destination received powerful additional advertising in the world media, which led to an increase in tourists from other countries, including Europe and North America. The ban on flights has created additional inconveniences for those people who are the link between Georgia and Russia, Russian airlines, as well as Russian tourists, for whom Georgia has become a popular tourist destination in recent years. Does it mean. that the tourism sector of Georgia was not affected? No, it doesn’t. First of all, those companies suffered, which worked with the Russian market and in which many Russian citizens were employed. Today, during a pandemic, the issue of restoring air traffic has generally lost its relevance. And regarding the safety of Russian citizens – today more than one hundred and fifty thousand Russian citizens permanently reside and work in Georgia, someone has a residence permit, someone crossed the border (mainly Armenia, Azerbaijan or Turkey) once every six months to be able to legally stay in Georgia for the next six months. Now, during a pandemic, with the latter category, and there are most of them, a problem arose. It is true that the Russian Foreign Ministry would not hurt to take care of this, and as for the threat to the security of Russian citizens, there is no evidence of the existence of this threat and cannot be. Because there is no threat.
- Regarding visits to the Lugar laboratory by Russian specialists, it is a well-known fact that the Russian Federation is a member of international organizations, within which any monitoring of objects such as the Lugar laboratory is quite possible. The Georgian side has repeatedly offered the Russian side to conduct such an inspection together with specialists from other countries under the auspices of any international organization dealing with similar issues. Why the Russian side believes that it has the right to inspect facilities on the territory of another state remains a mystery.
- As for borderisation, the fact that the process of building barriers on the territory of another sovereign state is a gross violation of both the sovereignty of this state and international law is an obvious fact. In addition, within the framework of this process, Georgian citizens living in this territory are detained, which in fact is kidnapping, and agricultural land, areas adjacent to houses and even cemeteries are also alienated. As a result, this process in Georgia is called “creeping occupation” and it has nothing to do with ensuring the safety of people.
- I won’t say anything about diplomatic property, since I don’t know. Let everything be fair.
This could be the reaction of our Foreign Ministry, not in form, in content. After all, the main problem in Georgia’s relations with Russia is not even in the occupied territories. In Moscow, thirty years later, they sincerely cannot understand that Georgia is a sovereign state. a subject of international law, and not the backyard of the Russian Federation, with which you can do as you please. But, even worse, it seems that our authorities do not quite understand this either.
Gela Vasadze , GSAC