Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili has hailed Russia’s decision to lift the visa requirements for Georgian nationals and abolish the ban on direct flights between the two countries, calling it a positive move.
Garibashvili said that the decision would make it easier for the approximately one million Georgians living in Russia and their family members to visit each other without the need for a visa.
“This is certainly a positive decision from a humanitarian point of view, which is a welcome sight. Any decisions that help simplify our citizens’ lives, travel, business, of course, are positive, and they can be welcomed,” the prime minister told reporters on Thursday.
The Russian President, Vladimir Putin, signed a decree on Wednesday to lift the visa requirements for Georgian nationals from May 15. Another decree lifted the ban on flights by Russian airlines and the sale of tours to Georgia, which had been in place since 2019.
The visa regime between the two countries was first introduced by the Russian authorities in 2000. In contrast, Russian citizens have been able to visit Georgia without a visa and stay for up to a year since 2012. However, diplomatic relations between Georgia and Russia were severed by Tbilisi in 2008 after Russia recognized Abkhazia and South Ossetia.
Garibashvili praised the move as a positive humanitarian gesture that would benefit both nations. He added that any decision that simplifies the lives of citizens, businesses, and travel would always be welcomed.
The lifting of the visa requirements is seen as a step towards improving relations between the two countries, which have been strained for several years. The move is expected to promote people-to-people contacts and boost trade and economic cooperation between Georgia and Russia.
The Georgian Prime Minister’s positive response to the lifting of the visa requirements is a sign that the two nations are ready to move past their differences and work towards improving relations for the benefit of their citizens.