EU ambassadors send official protest to Vice Prime Minister Davitashvili on flights to Russia
Protest from EU ambassadors
The ambassadors of the EU countries addressed the Minister of Economy and Vice Prime Minister Levan Davitashvili with an official protest on flights to Russia, as ambassador of European Union Pawel Herchinsky explained to the journalists after the meeting.
According to the ambassador, the decision regarding the flights was made by Russia, although it required the consent of the Georgian authorities. As Herchinsky explains, they heard arguments from Levan Davitashvili which “they had heard before”.
“This decision is contrary to the decision of the EU countries not to fly to Russia and not to fly planes from Russia to the territory of the EU member states.
We also expressed our concern that this decision runs counter to our decision to isolate Russia and increase pressure on Russia to change its behavior.
I have sent a message, agreed upon with the 27 countries of the European Union, in which we express our concern about the decision of the Georgian authorities to agree to resume flights with Russia.”
After the meeting, Davitashvili said that the main topic was related to flights, though they discussed the “general geopolitical situation”.
“We discussed that the state and situation of Georgia cannot be considered in the same context as the situation of other countries. Georgia has a particularly difficult situation, it has a direct border with the Russian Federation, and 20% of Georgia’s territory is occupied. So, the context of Georgia is different from the context of the EU member states, and there was an open discussion about this with the ambassadors of the EU countries. I think this is understandable and logical for many ambassadors.”
They also discussed the issue of sanctions enforcement:
“Today we have the main border with Lars, and customs control is strictly carried out here, and everyone emphasizes that Georgia is a reliable and reliable partner in the part of sanctions enforcement, although three new connection points appear for us – in the airports of Tbilisi, Kutaisi and Batumi, here there is a ready position from our side for customs. As customs capacity increases and as the highest level of sanctions enforcement is being done at the Lars customs point, there will be additional customs control at these airports as well. This is also important information that we shared with the ambassadors.
Of course, we may have differences of opinion on certain issues, but I emphasize that our situation cannot be equated with the EU member states.”
Nikoloz Samkharadze, chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee of the Parliament, responded to the ambassadors’ protest. According to him, the meeting of the ambassadors of the EU member states is a good opportunity to discuss the issue of resuming flights with Russia with the representative of the Georgian government.
According to Samkharadze, it would be logical for the European Union to ask the Russian government for an answer to Russia’s decisions.
“We already knew about this position of the European Union, and as for today’s demarche, it will be a very good opportunity for the representative of our government to explain in detail to the ambassadors of the European Union about the policy that Georgia has pursued so far and also about the logic of the decision made by the Russian authorities. Also, it may sound a little strange, but it may be logical to demand answers from the Georgian authorities on the decision of the Russian authorities, however, in this case, the European Union should also demand an answer from the Russian authorities as to why it made the decision to revoke the visas and cancel the flight ban now.”
The Deputy Speaker of the Parliament, Gia Volski, also responded to the official protest by saying that Georgia does not even have diplomatic relations with Russia and a large part of the country is occupied, “unlike European countries”, which have diplomatic relations and maintain “large-scale trade relations”.
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On May 10, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a document on the cancellation of the visa regime for Georgian citizens from May 15, 2023. By the second decree, Putin canceled the ban on air traffic from Russia to Georgia.
According to the document, the exception is “citizens who enter the Russian Federation for employment or for a period of more than 90 days, including for the purpose of education.”
By another decree of Putin, the President of Russia lifted the ban on flights to Georgia for Russian airlines.
According to the document, the order of the President of the Russian Federation dated June 21, 2019, which prohibited Russian airlines from flying between Georgia and Russia, was declared invalid.
Until now, the visa regime with Russia was unilaterally abolished. the so-called After Gavrilov’s night, Russia stopped direct flights with Georgia from July 2019.
Protest from EU ambassadors