Russia, Georgia mull visa issues

8 February 2017 18:12 (UTC+04:00)

By Kamila Aliyeva 

Russia and Georgia have discussed the possibility of lifting the visa regime for Georgian citizens.

Moscow does not rule out further alleviating or even canceling the visa regime with Georgia, RIA Novosti reported with the reference to the Russian Foreign Ministry.

The Russian Foreign Ministry reported on February 8 that Prague hosted a meeting between Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Grigory Karasin and Zurab Abashidze, the special envoy of the Georgian Premier on settlement of relations with Russia on Tuesday.

The sides discussed Russian-Georgian Agreement on Customs Administration and Trade Monitoring signed on November 9, 2011.

“The parties should not delay the beginning of the practical implementation of this extremely necessary for the regional trade agreement,” the Ministry reported, noting that Moscow is ready for the practical realization of the deal.

Both sides voiced satisfaction with the growing intensification of humanitarian exchanges and human contacts.

“Due to visa liberalization for Georgian citizens carried out by Russia in late 2015, the number of visas issued by the Russian Federation Interests Section in Tbilisi, doubled and reached 40,000. Karasin confirmed the intention towards further simplification of visa regime, not excepting its cancellation in the future,” the ministry said adding that this also depends on the readiness of the Georgian authorities to the important work in this direction.

Tbilisi broke diplomatic relations with Moscow in 2008.  The relations between Georgia and Russia have pushed all limits when Georgian troops launched military operations to retake the breakaway Abkhazia and South Ossetia regions on August 8, 2008. Russian armed forces entered the regions to stop the military attacks by Georgian troops. After four days of tense fighting, Georgian forces were expelled from South Ossetia and Abkhazia. 

Both sides agreed to a ceasefire on August 12. Tbilisi immediately cut all diplomatic ties with Russia just a while after the bloody skirmish.

Abashidze’s first meeting with Karasin took place in December 2012. Later, the senior diplomats held meetings in the Czech capital of Prague between 2013 and 2016, with the latest of them on October 19, focusing on cooperation in trade, economy, transport, culture, humanitarian and current issues.

In late 2016, the parties confirmed that they intend to continue to pursue the normalization of relations. Russian President Vladimir Putin previously said that does not preclude the return of a visa-free regime with Russia for Georgian citizens, for this, according to him, there is every reason.

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