According to the Georgian Dream, the ruling party, the country’s exports to Russia grew much less than those to other states. However, imports of Russian products increased. Armenia is used as a transit channel for Georgian goods. Turkish supplies enter Russian territory through Georgia.
Moscow () – The president of the ruling party “Georgian Dream”, Iraklij Kobakhidze, responded to the accusations against the government of his country in a broadcast. In a conversation with journalist Christiane Amanpour, the President of the European Commission, Ursula Von der Leyen, had cited Tbilisi as an example of sanctions evasion, a practice that helps Russia resist economic pressure from the West for its attack on Ukraine. .
Kobakhidze accuses Amanpour of spreading false information, and itself of giving voice to a “vast coalition directed against Georgia’s national interests.” According to the data that he provides to refute the accusations, in 2022, Georgia’s total exports increased by 33%, while with Russia the increase remains fixed at 7%. In comparison, trade with other countries is growing: China (20%), Azerbaijan (27%), Turkey (35%), the United States (36%), Bulgaria (67%), Armenia (129%) and Kazakhstan ( 148%).
Business with Russia, according to the leader of the majority party, is not decisive for Georgian politics, in fact, it has been reduced, contrary to what reported: “If Georgia had exported sanctioned products to Russia, its trade balance should have increased proportionally”. Three-quarters of the items that entered trade with Russia were alcoholic beverages (Georgian wine was always popular in Russia) and non-alcoholic beverages, agricultural produce, and ferroalloys—that is, nothing related to sanctioned merchandise.
Instead, the accusations are directed against European countries, which “pay hundreds of millions of euros a day to import goods from Russia.” In the period from February to August 2022, imports from Russia into Germany increased by 33%, in Poland by 24%, in Italy by 100%, and with similar and higher percentages in almost all other countries, says Kobakhidze .
According to him, there is a “global war party” that seeks to involve Georgia in war operations in various forms and formats. Actually, the leader of the majority party does not mention the data on the growth of imports from Russia, which increased by 68%, nor the fact that Russia is Georgia’s second largest trading partner, after Turkey. In this case, it is not a question of evading sanctions, but of obtaining economic advantages derived from the condescending position of the Tbilisi government towards the Russian war in Ukraine, without applying sanctions on its part despite applying for membership in the European Union.
There is also a reason why Georgia increased its exports to Armenia: it is related to the fact that Yerevan can export to Russia with significant customs rebates, adhering to the Common Economic Space agreements with Moscow, unlike Tbilisi.
The biggest advantage that Georgia obtained from the situation created in 2022 is undoubtedly the “tourism boom” and the real estate boom of Russian refugees and in transit, which brought the country profits of more than 3.5 billion dollars, with an estimated global growth of 182.5%. A member of the opposition, the leader of the For Georgia party, Mikhail Daušvili, affirms that “the ruling party manipulates data and concepts, trying to show itself against the export of agricultural products to Russia, precisely in order to hide its maneuvers to evade sanctions “.
According to one of the leaders of the National Movement, Roman Gotsiridze, “the doubts of Western politicians do not come so much from export statistics, but from the growth in transit of sanctioned goods to Russia through Georgian territory.” This would have increased by more than 100%, through the transfer of cargo from Turkey to Novorossiysk, and the use of other road and rail corridors. Thus Georgia becomes a “broker partner” without directly taking responsibility for the whole picture.