Vladimir Putin: we're ready to abolish visa regime with Georgia
Russia is ready to abolish the visa regime with Georgia, Russian President Vladimir Putin said at his 11th annual press conference.
However, he stressed that it's not Russia which initiated the degradation of Russian-Georgian relations, "Georgia's former leadership and then President Saakashvili's adventurist decisions led to Georgia's territorial break-up." "It's their historic fault and they should carry it in full," the president reminded.
However, Russia is ready to restore relations at all levels. "The territorial integrity of Georgia is first of all the business of the Georgian, the South-Ossetian and Abkhazian people. We will accept any decision. Today, despite all the difficulties, we see signals from the current Georgian leadership and these signals are accepted," Putin said, noting that the volume of trade between the two countries is growing and Russia accounted for two thirds of Georgian exports of vine materials and wine.
Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili commented on the Russian President's remarks about Russia’s readiness to abolish the visa regime for Georgian citizens.
"We think that it is a step in the right direction," the head of government said.
He stressed that the Georgian authorities abolished the visa regime for Russian citizens a few years ago.
"We are interested in having more tourists from Russia," Garibashvili noted, adding that the "interest of our numerous compatriots living in Russia, as well as of Georgian business people and ordinary citizens towards simplification of the visa regime should also be taken into consideration."
"They want to move between the two countries with minimum difficulties," Sputnik Georgia cited Garibashvili as saying.
The chairman of the Parliamentary Committee for International Contacts, Tedo Japaridze, called Vladimir Putin's statement on the abolition of visas an interesting and positive step.
"This is an interesting statement, considering the fact that Georgia itself long ago abolished the visa regime with Russia," he said. "This is a positive step if, of course, it will be implemented," he added.