PRAGUE, November 16. /TASS/. NATO continues to step up its activities near the Russian borders and seeks to put Georgia at the forefront of its campaign to deter Moscow, a Russian deputy foreign minister said on Thursday.
"Unfortunately, the anti-Russian doctrine continues to manifest itself in Tbilisi, and is gaining strength as a constant factor in Georgia’s domestic and external policies," Russian State Secretary, Deputy Foreign Minister Grigory Karasin said after a meeting with Georgian prime minister’s special envoy on Russian affairs, Zurab Abashidze.
"We should also note the factor of NATO, which is stepping up its activities and is de-facto trying to turn Georgia into the center of the campaign to deter Russia," the Russian diplomat continued.
Russia’s deputy foreign minister also noted that Georgian politicians often harshly criticize bilateral issues which have no relation to Abkhazia and South Ossetia, the two former Georgian republics whom Russia recognized as independent states after a military conflict in 2008.
"That’s why I would like to ask: why, against the background of improving cooperation in the spheres of trade, economy, transport and humanitarian affairs, Georgian politicians often make quite belligerent statements which sound similar to the period of [former Georgian president] Mikheil Saakashvili’s tenure," the Russian diplomat said. "No doubt, this affects the atmosphere of relations and often sends wrong signals to the public opinion in the two states."
"But we, upon instructions from the leaderships of Russia and Georgia, will continue our work to make positive tendencies eventually dominate [in the Russian-Georgian relations]," he added.
The Abashidze-Karasin format was established in 2012. Since Moscow and Tbilisi severed diplomatic ties in September 2008, those meetings remain the only format of direct dialogue between officials of the two states.
Karasin described Thursday’s working meeting with Abashidze in Prague as very meaty and said he planned to have the next meeting in February 2018.
"We agreed to continue joint work and meet next time in February 2018," he said.