Russia Wants to Restore Diplomatic Relations with Georgia

World | March 2, 2012, Friday // 19:19|  views

Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili has said he wants to scrap visa requirements for Russians. Photo by RIA Novosti

Russia is ready to restore diplomatic relations with Tbilisi, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich announced on Friday.

Lukashevich also declared Russia's readiness to scrap visa requirements with Georgia; his remarks follow Georgia's decision to introduce visa-free travel for Russian citizens declared earlier this week.

"We are ready to introduce a visa-free regime for Georgian citizens on a reciprocal basis," he said, as cited by RIA Novosti.

"To that end, the Georgian side should ensure credible security guarantees for Russians visiting Georgia. We also propose restoring diplomatic relations between our countries. Moscow is waiting for Tbilisi's reaction to these proposals," he added.

Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili has said he wants to scrap visa requirements for Russians, Rossiya 24 state television reported on Wednesday.

Speaking to parliament in Tbilisi on Tuesday, Saakashvili said his "new initiative" was to "unilaterally abolish the visa regime with Russia."

"Let every Russian citizen know that they can come to Georgia without a visa, do business here, spend holidays in our resorts, see their friends and relatives," he said.

Tit-for-tat visa restrictions were imposed in 2000 but Georgia eased requirements in 2004, which allowed Russians to receive visas on arrival in the country.

Russia-Georgia relations have been at a low since the 2008 war over Georgia's breakaway territory of South Ossetia.

However, last year, the two countries signed a landmark trade deal, which allowed Russia to join the World Trade Organization after 18 years of negotiations.

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Tags: Russia, Georgia, Mikheil Saakashvili, Moscow, Tbilisi, diplomatic relations, Alexander Lukashevich, 2008, South Ossetia, Abkhazia


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