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MPs in Dispute over Regular Flights with Russia
Civil Georgia, Tbilisi / 26 Mar.'10 / 12:17

Lawmakers briefly debated on March 26 about what Tbilisi’s stance should be on resumption of regular direct flights with Moscow.

A lawmaker from Christian-Democratic Movement (CDM), Nika Laliashvili, asked ruling party MPs why the Georgian transport administration was not sending a request to the Russian counterpart agency on resumption of direct flights between the two countries.

CDM, a leading party in the parliamentary minority, called on the authorities earlier this month to use the same practice of talks with Russia via the Swiss mediation, which was used in case of reopening border crossing point between the two countries and engage in talks on resumption of direct flights.

But lawmaker from the ruling party, Akaki Minashvili, responded that it was Russia which suspended the flights and it was up to Russia to submit a request for resumption of flights.

“For Georgia the priority is de-occupation and we should at first speak about de-occupation,” he said. “Those willing to take flight to Moscow are able to do that via third countries.”

MP from ruling party, Mikheil Machavariani, who is vice-speaker of the parliament, said: “There will not be three ‘international flights’ from Moscow into Georgia – Tbilisi, Sokhumi, Tskhinvali.”

Authorities in breakaway Abkhazia said efforts were underway to arrange direct Moscow-Sokhumi flights. There is no airport in Georgia’s another breakaway region of South Ossetia.

MP Giorgi Targamadze, the CDM leader, said that it remained unclear for him why the authorities were refusing to take “a rational approach”.

“Sending one paper [of request] to the Russian transport administration via the Swiss embassy will not destroy the state,” he said.

After allowing three charter flights in mid-January, Russia turned down the Georgian Airways’ request to resume regular flights saying that it was up to the aviation authorities of the two countries to negotiate the issue. The Russian Transport Ministry said it was up to Tbilisi to come out with the initiative to start talks.
 
Russia cut direct air flights with Georgia in October, 2006, following spy row between the two countries. The flights were restored in late March, 2008, but were again suspended after the August war.

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