zurab abashidze

Zurab Abashidze represents Georgia in direct talks with Russia. (Interpressnews.)

TBILISI, DFWatch–Georgia and Russia will meet for a second round of direct talks in Prague on March 1. The two countries have still not established formal relations following a brief war in 2008.

Georgia’s envoy, Zurab Abashidze, told journalists Monday that they will be discussing market, transport, humanitarian and cultural relations. They will also sum up the steps taken forward in regards to trade, and especially the progress with reintroducing Georgian products on the Russian market.

“We may also discuss new areas of cooperation,” Abashidze explained.

Improving economic relations with the Russian Federation is one of the main priorities of Bidzina Ivanishvili’s government. As a first step he established a post for Abashidze as the Prime Minister’s Special Representative for Russian Relations. The first direct meeting between the two countries since the war in 2008 was held December 14, 2012 in Geneva.

Representing Russia was Gregory Karasin, representative of the Russian President. Georgia refused to hold another meeting in Geneva, because the two states are already meeting there for the Geneva talks, a regular meeting between the warring parties from 2008.

The negotiations concern bringing Georgian wine and mineral water back on the Russian market. Russia closed its market for Georgian product in 2006 due to health regulations, but many saw it as a political decision influenced by the arrest in Georgia of four Russian diplomats who were accused of being spies. Russia followed up the embargo with the deportation of large numbers of ethnic Georgians.