Georgia’s Foreign Ministry has no dialogue with Russia over visa simplification

Russia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated on December 22 that the country was simplifying visas for Georgians. Photo by the, 25 Dec 2015 - 18:49, Tbilisi,Georgia

Georgia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs says it is not in contact with any Russian state agencies about visa-related issues.

The Georgian side released a statement today in response to resent assertions by chairman of the Federation Council of Russia, Valentina Matviyenko.

The Russian official said since Russia announced its plan to ease visa rules for Georgians on December 22 the two countries’ Foreign Ministries were holding talks regarding the procedural issues.

She also hoped that after the simplification of the visas, Russia would introduce visa-free travel for Georgian citizens from next year.

Today the Georgian side said no dialogue was in place.

"Georgia has no diplomatic relations with Russia after the Russia-Georgia war of 2008 and, consequently, no such dialogue could take place. The visa issue was discussed in the Abashidze-Karasin format,” Georgia’s Foreign Ministry responded.

The Abashidze-Karasin format of talks involved meetings between Georgia's special envoy for relations with Russia Zurab Abashidze and Russia's deputy foreign minister Grigory Karasin, which were held at least twice a year. The format of talks was introduced by the current Government of Georgia and focused on trade and economic issues and aimed to normalise relations with Russia.

On December 22 Russia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs released a statement that said from the next day, December 23, all Georgian citizens could enjoy simplified visa procedures with Russia.

After the Russia-Georgia war in 2008, Georgian citizens were only awarded a visa to travel to Russia if they had been invited by very close relatives.

Georgia’s former government annulled visas for Russian tourists in 2011 however Russia maintained its complicated procedures, until now.