Zurab Abashidze, Georgian Prime Minister’s special representative for Russia, held a meeting with Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Grigory Karasin in Prague on January 31, within the framework of the bilateral informal dialogue launched in late 2012.
According to the Georgian government, at the meeting, the two diplomats discussed implementation of the 2011 trade monitoring agreement, which has become the subject of the latest controversy between Tbilisi and Moscow.
“Zurab Abashidze stressed that implementation of the 2011 agreement is possible only with full respect to its principles and provisions, without any interpretations and politicizing,” the Georgian government’s press service stated, adding that “the recent official statements by Russia completely contradict the principles and the essence of the agreement.”
The press service also stressed that there was “serious difference of positions” on the matter, and that Moscow made “an absolutely unacceptable interpretation of a number of important provisions of the agreement, which seriously threatens proper implementation of the commitments envisioned by the agreement.”
Zurab Abashidze commented on the matter for Rustavi 2 TV, reiterating that Kremlin’s recent statements were “completely against the principles and the essence of the agreement.”
“They are speaking about the so called customs borders between Georgia and Abkhazia, and between Georgia and Tskhinvali Region, and you are well-aware that there are no customs borders mentioned in the agreement; it [merely] speaks of trade corridors and where the [customs] terminals are to be placed,” Abashidze said.
Tbilisi signed a contract with Geneva-based testing and inspection company - SGS - on carrying out cargo monitoring through three “trade corridors” between Georgia and the Russian Federation on December 19, 2017. Moscow has maintained it would sign the contract as well.
The contracts are part of the Swiss-mediated agreement between Tbilisi and Moscow signed on November 9, 2011, which envisages deployment of sophisticated systems for tracking and auditing of “all trade in goods that enters or exits predefined corridors” - two of which run through Abkhazia and Tskhinvali Region/South Ossetia and the third one on the Zemo Larsi-Kazbegi border crossing point on the undisputed section of the Georgia-Russia border.