President Saakashvili said during his annual state of the nation address in the Parliament on February 28, that Georgia would unilaterally remove visa requirements for citizens of the Russian Federation “to give more chance to the peace.”
In October, 2010 Georgia allowed 90-day visa-free travel for Russian citizens registered as residents of Russia’s republics in the North Caucasus, while other Russian citizens are able to obtain the visa upon arrival in Georgia.
“While deepening close ties with the West we are at the same time interested in improving relations with Russia. We know it is not easy, but Russia is and will always be our neighbor, which determines our desire to have peace with [Russia], but it can be peace with such Russia, which recognizes and complies with all the international legal norms of relations between two sovereign countries,” Saakashvili said.
He said that WTO deal with Russia was a good example that “it is possible to reach a result even” with Russia “if you stand firm on your principles.”
“We welcome economic ties with Russia. So we are ready to give more chance to the peace and we put forth new initiative of lifting visa regime with Russia unilaterally,” Saakashvili said.
“Let every Russian businessman know that they can come to Georgia, invest in Georgia, make business in Georgia, employ people in Georgia and they will be protected here like any other representative of other countries… Let Russian tourists know that they arrive here at any time,” he said, adding that in Georgia no one would “ban them from drinking Georgian wine and Borjomi, which they miss so much”. Russia banned import of Georgian wine and mineral waters in 2006.