Moscow explains why it won’t abolish visas for Georgians
‘The proximity of the republic to the zone of military conflicts prevents Georgia from enjoying visa-free relations with Russia,’ said the Deputy Foreign Minister of Russia Grigori Karasin. On Thursday he held another round of talks in Prague with Zurab Abashidze, the Georgian prime minister’s ‘Special Representative for the Regulation of Relations with Russia’.
“The cancellation of visa requirements for citizens of Georgia is impeded upon by, among other things, the lack of diplomatic relations between our countries which Tbilisi unilaterally tore down in 2008. An important factor which contributes to this issue is the security in the region. Military conflicts are taking place near Georgia, which terrorists try to get to via Georgia. That’s why the current situation is being so carefully analyzed and discussed by experts,” Karasin told RIA Novosti.
• The current visa regulations between Russia and Georgia came into force on 5 December 2000 and was initiated by Russia. Since 29 February 2012, according to a decree issued by then-president Mikheil Saakashvili, Russian citizens were given the right to cross over into Georgia and remain in the country without a visa for a period of one year.
• Georgia broke diplomatic relations with Russia after the August war of 2008 in response to Russia recognizing Abkhazia and South Ossetia as independent states.
• The Georgian Dream government, which came to power in Georgia after the October 2012 elections, has named the ‘regulation of relations’ with Russia as one of its main priorities. Several concrete measures have been taken in this direction including the resumption of a direct dialogue between Georgia and Russia in the format of regular meetings between Zurab Abashidze and Grigori Karasin.
• Currently, the dialogue between Russia and Georgia takes place within the framework of the Geneva discussions, albeit with international intermediaries. Only humanitarian, transport, economic and cultural topics are discussed.