Talks are underway to ease, but not to lift, visa requirements for the Georgian citizens willing to travel to Russia, Grigory Karasin, Russia’s deputy foreign minister, told RIA Novosti news agency on June 13.
Karasin, whose Georgian interlocutor in bilateral dialogue is PM Ivanishvili’s special envoy for relations with Russia Zurab Abashidze, said that talks were focusing on broadening category of those citizens who are now eligible to obtaining Russian entry visa.
Georgia unilaterally lifted visa rules for the Russian citizens in late February, 2012.
“Dialogue on easing visa regime continues and we are thinking over extending number of those people who obtain visas upon [receiving] invitations [from Russia] and to make it more flexible,” Karasin said, adding that the agreement on the issue was possible within coming months.
“But it’s too early to speak about lifting visa requirements in the condition when there are no diplomatic relations between the two countries,” Karasin said.
The two countries broke off diplomatic ties after the August, 2008 war. Georgia says it will restore diplomatic relations with Russia only if the latter reverses its recognition of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said on June 11 that close cooperation between security services of the two countries in combating crime and terrorism would help to pave the way for lifting visa rules for the Georgian citizens.
Asked what should be done in order for Russia to lift visa requirements for the Georgian citizens, Putin told state-owned English-language Russia Today television: “That will be possible, if we really work jointly in fight against crime and terrorism.”
“You probably know that terrorist elements are constantly infiltrating, were infiltrating, into Caucasus, into our [territory] from the Georgian territory,” Putin said.
“We want to cooperate, want to work with Georgia, want to restore relations in full scale. If we can establish such work in the sphere of law enforcement agencies and special services, that will be the first step towards restoration of visa-free regime,” Putin said.