(Russia Beyond The Headlines) Sergei Markedonov and Igor Gvritishvili comment on the first direct talks between Russian and Georgian diplomats since the “hot August” of 2008.
On Dec. 14, Russian and Georgian diplomats met in Geneva for the first time since the 2008 “five-day war,” signaling a transition in the normalization process from words, speculation and forecasts to a more practical phase. How far will it go?
The dialogue between Russian Deputy Foreign Minister, Grigory Karasev, and his opposite number, Georgian special representative to Russia, Zurab Abashidze, will proceed on a regular basis. This is arguably the main result of the Geneva meeting. After years of a “freeze” in bilateral relations, it would have been unrealistic to expect anything more.
There are, of course, pragmatic reasons for the two countries to seek cooperation. The Georgian Dream coalition won the October parliamentary elections. Even if the United National Movement had won, it would have made no difference to the fact that much of the population in the Trans-Caucasus republic is engaged in agriculture, which requires access to the Russian market.
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