Deputy Foreign Minister of Russia: Armenia Plays a Positive Role in Improving Russian-Georgian Relations (EXCLUSIVE)
At the end of 2017 discussions on the implementation of the Russian-Georgian Agreement signed in 2011 were rather intensified. The agreement envisages the creation of alternative corridors between Russia and Georgia, which are crucial both for Armenia and the whole region. "Armedia" IAA presents an exclusive interview with the Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Grigory Karasin on the implementation of the 2011 Agreement, the Russian-Georgian relations and Armenia's possible role.
- In December 2017, Georgia signed a contract with SGS. At what stage are the negotiations between the Russian side and the Swiss company now? When can we expect the contract to be signed?
- I can inform you that the negotiations on the draft contract, as well as all the necessary internal Russian approvals have been completed. In the near future, the Federal Customs Service will sign a contract, as well as the second necessary document, an intergovernmental agreement on the procedure for financing the work of SGS. After that, the practical implementation of the 2011 Russian-Georgian agreement on customs administration and monitoring of regional trade will begin.
- Are the disagreements on some paragraphs of the 2011 Agreement overcome and won't they harm its implementation?
- There are no disagreements about the paragraphs of the Agreement between the parties. The text of this international treaty is completely unambiguous and does not allow arbitrary interpretations; all the obligations of the parties are written in black and white. It is another thing that Moscow and Tbilisi could differently perceive the political meaning of the Agreement.
Actually, the outcome of the discussions at my meeting with the Special Representative of the Prime Minister of Georgia, Z. Abashidze, in Prague on January 31 was just a joint statement: the main thing is not the interpretation, but the conscientious implementation of the Agreement in strict accordance with its terms.
- There is an opinion that only Armenia will benefit from the opening of the Russian-Georgian transport corridors. What can the implementation of the 2011 Agreement provide for each of the parties and the region as a whole?
- The volatility of the communication on the Georgian Military Road creates problems for all the participants in regional trade, without exception. Therefore, the opening of additional, alternative routes is in the interests not only of Armenia, but of all the states of the South Caucasus and neighboring regions. By the way, Georgia, whose trade with Russia is growing dynamically, is also objectively interested in this.
- How realistic is the possibility of holding a summit meeting between representatives of Russia and Georgia? Can we expect a breakthrough in bilateral relations in 2018? Can Armenia play some role in the settlement of Russian-Georgian relations?
- The experience of the Russian-Georgian dialogue over the past five years has shown that the remaining disagreements on fundamental issues cannot interfere the joint work aimed at improving our relations in specific areas. I mean the economy, transport, the humanitarian sphere, where tangible results have been achieved. Russia, as before, is committed to good-neighborly relations with Georgia and the Georgian people. From our side, there are no obstacles, and progress depends solely on Tbilisi's political will and pragmatism. And we are ready for contacts with the Georgian side at any level.
As for Armenia, it seems to me that it already plays a very positive role. After all, your country's active position in favor of the development of regional trade serves as an additional incentive for the parties to quickly begin implementing the 2011 Agreement in a realistic, depoliticized manner.
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