TBILISI, February 9. /TASS/. Dialogue with Russia "will be maintained and continued," Georgian prime minister’s special representative for relations with Russia Zurab Abashidze told journalists on Monday.
Dialogue between Abashidze and Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Grigory Karasin "is a channel of communication between Georgia and Russia," the official said. "No matter how difficult the bilateral relations between the two countries may be, dialogue is necessary," he added.
Abashidze said his next meeting with Karasian "has not been scheduled yet." At the same time, "a number of issues have currently emerged that require discussion and settlement," he noted.
Earlier, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said that "the Abashidze-Karasin format is operational." Lavrov added that he "heard no official statements on the cancellation of this format."
"They [Abashidze and Karasin] have not held a meeting for a while, that’s a fact. But we should remain calm about it," the foreign minister said. "I think that as soon as the Georgian side is ready, we will use this means. It is very useful, as it provides ground for exchanging the views on emerging issues," he added.
On February 3, Georgian Foreign Minister Tamara Beruchashvili said that she saw "no alternative" to dialogue with Russia. "Despite all difficulties, Georgia’s direct dialogue with Russia in the Abashidze-Karasin format will continue," Beruchashvili stressed.
Meetings between Abashidze and Karasin are the first direct dialogue between officials of Russia and Georgia since 2008. Discussions in this format are held every four months starting from December 2012. The first meeting between the official representatives since hostilities over the bordering South Ossetia region flared in 2008 opened near Geneva on December 14, 2012. The next seven meetings were held in Prague in 2013 and 2014 to discuss economic, humanitarian and cultural cooperation of the two countries.