Saturday, March 2, 2013

Russian, Georgian top diplomats talk about relations improvement, including wine export and visa regime

02.03.2013 (Hvino News) According to the Russian Foreign Ministry, Deputy Russian Foreign Minister, Grigory Karasin, and the Georgian Prime Minister’s special envoy, Zurab Abashidze, pointed out some positive changes in Russian-Georgian relations in recent months, during their meeting in Prague. Russian and Georgian top diplomats met on Friday to discuss visa regime, wine exports to Russia, direct flights between Moscow and Tbilisi and other issues.

“Both sides are satisfied with the results, they are convinced that our unofficial contacts have a future. We tentatively agreed to hold the next meeting in May. Its location will be discussed later, but it might be Prague,” Karasin said after the talks.

He described the meeting as “constructive,” saying that it allowed making a step forward on a number of practical issues, such as the visa regime and resumption of direct flights between the two states.

“The Georgian side is interested in easing Russian visa regime for Georgian nationals. We noted that it is quite natural for two states with no diplomatic relations to have strict visa requirements. But, at the same time, we have extended the range of possibilities to visit Russia for various groups of Georgian residents. We will work on ways to further ease this regime. This is a homework that we should do at the inter-departmental level,” Karasin said. “We’ve touched upon the resumption of direct flights between the two states and discussed ground transportation issues, too,” the Russian diplomat said.

The envoys have also discussed the possible lift of Russia’s ban on Georgian wine and mineral water. Russia's consumer watchdog Rospotrebnadzor said earlier this week it was ready to start talks with Georgian business on allowing Georgian wine and mineral water to be sold in Russia again, following inspections of Georgian enterprises by Russian specialists.

“[Inspections] were accompanied by outbursts of anger by President Saakashvili, however, it did not prevent those inspections from being successful,” Karasin said. “The work will continue.”

Russian chief consumers’ rights official Gennady Onishchenko said in early February the ban might be lifted “this spring.”

Abashidze also described the talks as constructive and successful.

Russia and Georgia severed diplomatic ties after Moscow recognized de-facto independent Georgian republics of Abkhazia and South Ossetia as independent states following a brief military conflict. Georgia’s new government, elected in the October 1 polls, said normalizing ties with Russia was among its top priorities. The first meeting between Russian and Georgian envoys on bilateral relations was held in Geneva on December 14. The sides agreed to hold such meetings once in two months.

Evidence of improving bilateral relations was a meeting between the Georgian Patriarch Ilia II and Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow in January, as well as a meeting in Davos, Switzerland, of the two countries’ Prime Ministers, Dmitry Medvedev and Bidzina Ivanishvili.

© Hvino News

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