Georgian envoy says Russia works to simplify visas for Georgians

Georgia’s Special Envoy to Russia Zurab Abashidze met the Deputy Foreign Minister of Russia in Prague yesterday. Photo by, 20 Oct 2016 - 11:56, Tbilisi,Georgia

Georgia’s Special Envoy to Russia Zurab Abashidze says the Russian government is working to simplify visas for Georgian citizens. 

Abashidze voiced this news after he met with Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Grigory Karasin in Prague, Czech Republic yesterday. 

I was told that Russia is working to simplify visas for Georgia. It doesn’t mean rejecting the visa regime entirely however if it becomes easier to get a visa then that will be a step taken forward,” Abashidze said. 

Following the meeting Russia’s Foreign Ministry wrote the Russian government was discussing simplifying visas for Georgian airline staff as the first step in this direction. 

The Russian side noted the increased number of travellers moving between Georgia and Russia was increasing, and the bilateral flow of passengers this year had already exceeded 400,000 people. 

The Abashidze-Karasin talks typically focus on economic issues and were initiated by the current Georgian Government to support normalising relations between the two nations after the 2008 war. Photo by Rustavi 2.  

  • In December 2000 Russia introduced a visa regime with Georgia and in 2006 it carried out a mass deportatation of Georgians from 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. 
  • Russia maintained its complicated procedures, until now.

On another note, Russia’s Foreign Ministry said this November Tbilisi will host a meeting between Georgian and Russian business representatives, which will take place under the auspices of both countries' Chambers of Commerce. 

The meeting will encourage the future strengthening of economic ties between Russia and Georgia,” Russia’s Foreign Ministry reported. 

The Abashidze-Karasin meetings typically focus on economic relations however yesterday Abashidze spoke about the continuing human rights violations in Georgia’s two occupied regions of Abkhazia and Tskhinvali (South Ossetia) as well as the difficult situation at the Administrative Boundary Lines (ABL), the Georgian Government's press office said. 

In this context the importance of the Geneva International Talks was highlighted as a major format for discussing security and humanitarian issues between Georgia and Russia,” the press office added. 

Abashidze and Karasin also discussed the fate of Georgian citizens who were imprisoned in Russia for spying. 

Seven Georgian citizens have been returned to Georgia after serving sentences in Russia for spying, the Government of Georgia said. 

On a more positive tone, the Georgian and Russian envoys positively assessed the planned transfer of Georgian films from Russia. 

The first Abashidze-Karasin meeting took place in 2012 in Geneva. The Abashidze-Karasin talks are limited in scope to economic and other practical issues.