PM says “no formal talks” with Moscow led to resumption of direct Russia-Georgia flights

PM Garibashvili claimed there was “nothing scandalous” in Lavrov’s statement. Photo: Government press office, 28 Sep 2023 - 15:48, Tbilisi,Georgia

Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili on Thursday said Russia had “unilaterally resumed” direct flights with Georgia in May, and “no formal talks” had been held on the topic with Moscow, in response to Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s comments on the topic earlier this week. 

The Russian news agency Tass cited Lavrov as saying on Thursday the Kremlin’s move to resume direct flights with Georgia - suspended in 2019 by the decision of Russian President Vladimir Putin -  had been motivated by the Georgian Government’s interest to normalise relations with Moscow. 

He noted the decision had been agreed with the Georgian Government, along with another decision by Putin to cancel visa requirements for visitors from Georgia. 

In his press comments, Garibashvili claimed there was “nothing scandalous” in the statement, as both resumption of direct flights and the cancellation of visa requirements required approval by the Georgian Government. 

The Russian President said he had made the decisions unilaterally, and Lavrov has confirmed this. Of course, the decisions to come into operation needed the agreement with the Georgian Government, namely with the Aviation Agency of the Ministry of Economy. Otherwise, no flights could be operated”, Garibashvili said. 

He stressed his office had done “everything very openly”, and welcomed Moscow's decision on the flights as “beneficial” for Georgian citizens living in Russia. 

Garibashvili also reiterated the stance of his Government that only non-sanctioned aircraft and airlines would be allowed into the country on the backdrop of Moscow’s ongoing aggression against Ukraine.