TBILISI, DFWatch — The two countries fought a brief war in August 2008. Tomorrow they will meet face to face for the first time.
The meeting will take place on neutral ground in Geneva, Switzerland, on the sidelines of periodic talks between the sides in that war.
According to Zurab Abashidze, Georgia’s special representative for relations with Russia, he will be meeting Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister of Russia Grigory Karasin tomorrow in Geneva.
Georgia’s Foreign Minister Maia Panjikidze says the parties will discuss issues like frequency of meetings on improving Georgia-Russia relations; but she pointed out that confrontational issues will not be discussed.
“There are ‘untouchable’ topics in the Georgia-Russia dialogue, like Georgia’s sovereignty and freedom of choice, which Georgia won’t give away,” she said, referring to Georgia’s right to seek membership in NATO if it wants.
Abashidze said before leaving for Switzerland that Georgia is ready to have a constructive dialogue with Russia, but Georgian officials think the first meeting will be more of a technical type, to discuss organizational issues, and therefore serious results are not expected.
Confirming the meeting a few days ago, Grigory Karasin pointed out to Ria Novosti that Zurab Abashidze is not a member of the Georgian delegation in the Geneva talks, but comes there as a special representative for relations with Russia.
“We will be happy to talk to him,” Karasin said.
After fighting a five day war over the disputed territory South Ossetia in August 2008, Georgia and Russia broke off diplomatic relations, and have never had direct diplomatic contact since.
Georgian billionaire Bidzina Ivanishvili won a parliamentary election October 1, 2012 on a promise to restore relations with Russia.
Georgia has in the past largely been an agricultural economy with wine, fruit and nuts as main export products, and has relied on selling its produce to its closest neighbor Russia.
Sunday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Moscow is ready to start negotiations about restoring regular flights with Georgia, as well as restoring the import of Georgian agricultural product to Russia.