Zurab Abashidze: Georgia does not expect a new Russian embargo

EU Russia sanctions explained

Zurab Abashidze: Georgia does not expect a new Russian embargo

Zurab Abashidze: Georgia does not expect a new Russian embargo

Russian parliamentarians intend to call on the Kremlin to respond to Georgia’s accession to the decision to extend sanctions against Russia

The Georgian leadership hopes that Russia will not impose an embargo on Georgian products, despite the statements of the State Duma Committee on International Relations.

“Personally, I do not have such expectations that the Russian side will now react to the decision that was made in 2014. For me it would be very illogical, because nothing new has happened, ”said Zurab Abashidze, special representative of the Prime Minister of Georgia for relations with Russia on July 21..

The initiative of the Russian parliamentarians followed the statement of the head of European diplomacy Federica Mogherini on 20 July. According to this statement, Ukraine, Georgia, Montenegro, Albania, Liechtenstein and Norway joined the decision to extend the EU sanctions against Crimea and Sevastopol until June 23, 2017..

“We have to react. Also, of course, we will recommend the government of the Russian Federation to take similar measures … We can do without their wine. And mineral water. We have a lot of our own sources. We need to develop Crimea – wine, tourism. Good wines, no chemistry, unlike the same Georgia, “said Yan Zelinsky, a member of the State Duma Committee on Foreign Relations, in his commentary for the media..

Earlier, a similar opinion was expressed by Vladimir Dzhabarov, First Deputy Chairman of the Federation Council Committee on International Affairs. According to him, the sanctions of Georgia will not cause real damage to Russia, while the retaliatory measures of the Russian Federation can have a serious impact on the Georgian economy..

“Georgians will suffer the most: you can live without Georgian wines, but it’s hard without Russian help,” he told reporters.

As the special representative of the Prime Minister of Georgia for relations with Russia explained at a special briefing, this is not a new decision. According to Abashidze, Georgia joined one of 12 sanctions that were established by the Council of the European Union in June 2014 in connection with the events in Ukraine. We are talking about a sanction related to the export of products manufactured in Sevastopol and Crimea. As Abashidze recalled, these restrictions introduced in 2014 were extended both last and this year, and Georgia has similar requirements for its partners regarding the export of products manufactured in Abkhazia and South Ossetia..

“This is of particular importance for us, since it concerns not only Sevastopol and Crimea. We have a similar situation in Abkhazia and the Tskhinvali region; therefore, this issue is especially sensitive for Georgia, “said the special representative of the Prime Minister of Georgia for relations with Russia..

As a reminder, Russia imposed an embargo on the supply of Georgian food products, including wines and mineral waters, in 2006 against the backdrop of deteriorating bilateral relations. Representatives of the party of Mikhail Saakashvili, who was then president of Georgia, called the ban politically motivated, but the Russian authorities explained that the reason for its introduction was the low quality of Georgian products and violations of sanitary standards, systematically allowed during production. In 2013, Russia lifted the embargo on Georgian products. It is noteworthy that after Georgia agreed to Russia’s accession to the World Trade Organization, in November 2011, according to the WTO requirements, the Russian Federation was obliged to lift the embargo. However, some analysts believe that this process was accelerated by the change of power in Georgia in October 2012..

Opposition reaction

In comments on the initiative of the Russian deputies, the Georgian opposition stated that if the Russian Federation introduces a new embargo, the Georgian leadership will bear responsibility. In particular, the United National Movement (UNM) party of ex-President of Georgia Mikhail Saakashvili sees the authorities’ fault in the fact that, expecting too much from the opening of the Russian market, they did not heed the warnings of their opponents about the “unreliability” of the Russian market and about that “the Russian authorities are using the economy for political purposes”.

At the same time, the ex-speaker of the Georgian parliament, and now the leader of the opposition party “Democratic Movement” Nino Burjanadze, whom many in Georgia, especially among her former allies in the party of Mikhail Saakashvili, consider a pro-Russian politician, criticized the authorities for their “imprudence and inconsistency”.

“I want to hope that Russia will not take measures to ban the import of Georgian products so quickly, since a lot of people and companies will suffer from this, but if this really happens, it will be due to the imprudence and inconsistency of the current authorities,” Burjanadze said on briefing on July 21st.

Expert opinion

Expert Gia Khukhashvili considers unjustified the optimism of the Georgian authorities that the initiative of the Duma committee will not grow into a decision to ban the import of Georgian products into the Russian Federation. According to him, such statements “are not made just like that” and serve specific purposes. In particular, Khukhashvili believes, in this case, it is most likely “an attempt to exert pressure”.

“Russia is especially aggressive at this stage and is trying to reproduce counterattacks in different directions, including in regions where Western countries have direct or indirect interests. So, ignoring the danger of the embargo on the part of the Georgian authorities is simply not serious, “the expert said in an interview with the Voice of America Russian Service..

Gia Khukhashvili He also emphasized the fact that parliamentary elections will take place in Georgia in October. The expert does not exclude that during the pre-election period the “pressure” from Russia may increase. In particular, according to Khukhashvili, the return of Georgian products to the Russian market is one of the achievements that the ruling Georgian Dream party is proud of, and the possibility of problems in this direction may, in his words, become “a good pretext for blackmail” for Russia.

Zurab Abashidze: Georgia does not expect a new Russian embargo

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