27 Feb 2019 22:40

Abashidze, Karasin agree to promote implementation of Georgian-Russian customs monitoring agreement

TBILISI. Feb 27 (Interfax) - Georgian Prime Minister's Special Envoy for the relations with Russia Zurab Abashidze and Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Grigory Karasin discussed the implementation of the 2011 Georgian-Russian agreement regarding the customs monitoring of cargo shipments across the common border at a meeting in Prague on Wednesday.

"In keeping with the 2011 agreement, a trilateral working group, which is the joint Georgian-Russian-Swiss committee, was set up and discussed practical issues of implementing this agreement in Geneva on February 6. We addressed this issue and said that experts should continue their work, and should elaborate on the issues discussed in Geneva in order to contact with each other through Switzerland's mediation. We will promote this process as much as possible," Abashidze told Georgian reporters following the meeting with Karasin.

The top priority consists in fulfilling these processes in compliance with the 2011 agreement and without any violations, the Georgian prime minister's special envoy said.

"The primary goal and task consists in doing everything in line with the 2011 agreement and so there would be no any violations and abuses from this point of view," Abashidze said.

Russia holds almost the same stance, he said. "So, the work should be continued, and, as I know, experts will hold another meeting soon," Abashidze said.

He added that at the meeting he and Karasin focused on the issues put on the agenda of this format, partly the last year's results were reviewed and the prospects of trade-economic and transport ties were discussed.

"Frankly speaking, we did not expect any great news, and we have no illusions that any great breakthroughs, any tangible progress or advancement will take place at meetings, we do not use these words at all. This was one of regular meetings in the Prague format, at which we were trying to meet the interests and settle the problems of our companies, individuals or the business community," Abashidze said.

About 80% of time at the talks with Karasin was dedicated precisely to trade and economic issues, he said. "The positive dynamics is seen in this area. In particular, if the Georgian exports to Russia were zero in 2013, it has amounted to over $1.6 billion in recent years," the Georgian prime minister's special envoy said.

The Georgian and Russian governments signed the bilateral agreement on the key principles of the mechanism of customs administration and trade monitoring in Geneva on November 9, 2011. In keeping with the agreement the Swiss company SGS was later chosen to monitor the transfer of cargo across the Georgian-Russian border.