Georgian Foreign Minister Ilia Darchiashvili, on Wednesday, said Georgia remained committed to its policy regarding international sanctions against Russia, imposed on the country for its invasion of Ukraine and would continue “close cooperation” with its partners after the Russian Government lifted its ban on flights with Georgia and visa requirements for citizens of the country.
Georgia “has been closely cooperating” with its international partners to prevent circumvention of “any sanctions”, Darchiashvili noted, adding the country was carrying out all trade operations “transparently and openly”, the Foreign Ministry said.
Responding to the question of whether the Russian Government’s decision would affect the European Union’s decision on granting Georgia the membership candidate status, the FM noted it was “incorrect to attribute all issues” to the country’s European integration.
We must clearly point out why Georgia always becomes the object of such incomprehensible assessments, while [in such case] there are not any questions to Moldova - our friend and partner, already having the EU membership candidate status”, Darchiashvili emphasised, stressing Georgia “has been consistently taking steps” to fulfil the EU conditions and would continue doing so, as “European integration has been one of the main foreign policy priorities”.
The Minister noted Russian Government had “independently” made today’s decision to introduce 90-day visa-free travel for Georgian citizens starting from May 15 and resume air travel between the two countries, and reminded the public that during former President Mikheil Saakashvili’s ruling, his Government had unilaterally revoked visa regime with Russia, which was a “sensitive” decision, as it came “shortly after” the Russia-Georgia war.
More than a million” of Georgian citizens live in Russia, who have “very close ties” with their families and relatives in Georgia, he said and emphasised that “from a humanitarian standpoint” any “responsible” Government would welcome the Russian Government’s decision, as it would make living conditions easier for Georgian citizens.
Flights between Russia and Georgia had been suspended by the former in response to rallies in the Georgian capital in 2019, sparked by the incident in which a Russian MP took the seat of the Georgian Parliament Speaker in the lawmaking body during an international religious conference, amid the ongoing occupation of Georgian territories by Russia.
The previous Georgian Government introduced a visa regime with Russia following the latter’s invasion of Georgia in 2008, before former President Mikheil Saakashvili revoked it unilaterally in 2012.