MOSCOW, February 1. /TASS/. Moscow notes that NATO countries have considerably intensified armament deliveries to Georgia, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Grigory Karasin told TASS after a meeting in Prague with Georgian Prime Minister’s Special Representative for Relations with Russia Zurab Abashidze on Thursday.
"We see the intensified activity of the United States and NATO in Georgia. I won’t give any figures but the deliveries of armaments have been stepped up considerably," the Russian diplomat said.
"We see the transformation of Vaziani [the Georgian army’s base near Tbilisi] into a quite modern training center for the Georgian regular armed forces. This causes our concern and the concern of our neighbors in Abkhazia and South Ossetia," Karasin said.
Responding to a question about the possibility of Georgia’s accession to NATO in the imminent future, Karasin stressed: "Let’s not run ahead and let us remain optimists."
"On its part, Russia will continue its efforts to ensure that extra-regional military and political blocs do not move closer to our borders and do not aggravate the complexities, which exist with our neighbors even without this," the deputy foreign minister said.
According to the diplomat, Russia and Georgia "need to develop bilateral relations and think over a positive agenda."
The diplomat expressed doubts that diplomatic relations between Russia and Georgia could be restored shortly. "We are not tending to simplify matters, we still have no diplomatic relations," he said. "And judging by the developments, it seems difficult to expect that these diplomatic relations that Georgia severed in 2008 will be restored quickly," he added.
Nevertheless, "we continue a dialogue and we aim to make open and objective evaluations of the situation in the region, including through the prism of our bilateral relations," he added.
On September 2, 2008 Georgia severed diplomatic ties with Russia "over activities of the Russian Federation in Georgia in August 2008 and recognition of (independence) of Abkhazia and the Tskhinval region (the way the Georgian authorities refer to South Ossetia - TASS) by Russia." Nonetheless, the country’s Foreign Ministry said "consular relations with Russia will be preserved." In March 2009, Russian Federation Interests Section was opened at the Swiss embassy in Tbilisi and the Georgian Interests Section has been operating at the Swiss embassy in Moscow since then as well.
Russia became Georgia's second-largest trading partner in 2017 and the mutual trade between the two countries grew by 34%, he said.
"Together we summed up the main results of 2017 and agreed that they are quite impressive: for example, the mutual trade grew by 34%, Russia became the second largest trading partner of Georgia - we buy 2/3 of wine and sell it on the Russian market," he stressed.
"Very good results have been achieved in transport sector. Now the work is under way to expand the Verkhny Lars checkpoint. I think that this will significantly simplify the procedure itself and, what is most important, expand the volume of passing traffic," the diplomat said.
Also, according to the diplomat, the air service has a positive dynamic.
"One of the results of 2017 is a noticeable increase in the number of Russian citizens visiting Georgia as tourists - about 1.4 million people," the Deputy Minister said.