A Georgian-Russian Informal Dialogue meeting has been held in Prague

Another meeting within the framework of the Georgian-Russian Informal Dialogue was held in Prague, on 19 November 2015. From the Georgian side, the meeting was attended by the Georgian Prime Minister’s Special Representative for Relations with Russia Zurab Abashidze, Deputy Director of the Department for Relations with Neighbouring Countries and Regions Irakli Kvanchakhadze and Director of the Transport Policy Department of the Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development Ketevan Salukvadze.  
State Secretary – Russian Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Gregory Karasin, Advisor to the Transport Minister Igor Petrov and Acting Head of the Division of Georgia under the Fourth CIS Department of the Russian Foreign Ministry Maxim Litvinov represented the Russian delegation during the meeting.
 
Due to an increasing number of violations in Georgia’s occupied regions and along the occupation line,  Zurab Abashidze from the very beginning focused on systematic detentions of people in the occupied Tskhinvali region, banning of Georgian language instruction in schools of the Gali district  and installation of barbed wire fences across the occupation line, including in the Georgian-controlled territories, despite the fact that the aforesaid issues do not come within the specific format of the Informal Dialogue.
 
In the same context, the Georgian delegation underlined the particular importance of the Geneva International Discussions as a major format for resolving outstanding issues between Russia and Georgia, as well as for discussing security and humanitarian issues.
 
Talking points also included trade-economic, transport and humanitarian issues on the agenda of the Prague Dialogue. Concrete agreements were reached, including over the expansion of nomenclature of Georgian goods, as well as over the enhancement of the volume of carriages.
 
It was underlined that, as compared to the analogous period in the previous year, trade turnover between the two countries decreased by 8,9%, constituting USD 530,3 mln.  Georgian export to Russia decreased by 47,1% and is currently estimated at USD 12 mln. It was emphasized that despite such decrease in trade turnover, the volume of freight and passenger traffic to Russia has considerably increased. In particular, road and air communication between Georgia and Russia saw a considerable surge in the period from January to September 2015, boosting the inflow of Russian tourists to Georgia by 14,6%.
 
The Russian delegation confirmed the possibility of announcing simplified visa procedures for certain categories of Georgian citizens.
 
Discussions also focused on humanitarian issues, in particular, on Georgian citizens serving their sentences in the Russian Federation on counts of espionage. It was noted that respective decisions may be made in the near future, which will allow several citizens of Georgia to return to their families. 
 
Date of the next meeting will be specified later.