TBILISI, DFWatch – Georgia and Iran’s new visa free agreement has led to a tripling of travel. We take a closer look at the extent of cooperation between the two countries.

The agreement about visa-free travel between the Islamic Republic of Iran and Georgia came into force on January 26 2011 on the grounds of an agreement signed November 3 2010 by both governments.

The agreement allows citizens of each country multiple entries to the other country and to stay for 45 days without a visa. It also guarantees the right to transit the other country.

According to statistics from the Border Immigration Control released by the Georgian Interior Ministry, traffic between the two countries has tripled in 2011 to compared to 2010.

60 207 visitors arrived in Georgia from Iran in 2011; 21 313 visitors – in 2010. In 2006 5 379 visitors came to Georgia in 2006, 7 986 in 2007, 10 038 in 2009 and 9 848 in 2009.

The total number of visits between Iran and Georgia in 2011 was 119 401. Travel to and from Iran ranks fourth on the list of countries Georgia has most travel with, the first three being Turkey, Azerbaijan and Armenia.

Head of the Interior Ministry’s Information and Analytical Department Shota Utiashvili told DF Watch that there are incidents of Iranian citizens arrested in Georgia and Georgian citizens arrested in Iran. However, he says, “it did not happen because of any serious breach.” He also tells that such incidents haven’t increased since the visa-free regime came into force.

Official data from the Georgian Statistics Department says that the amount of Iranian investments in Georgia has increased between 2006 and 2010. In 2006 only 42 900 dollars of investments was implemented in the country, while in 2010 the number was equal to 1 083 900 dollars. Figures for 2011 are not yet ready.

But there is data about the first three quarters of the year, and this figure is much lower than the previous year’s quarterly data.

There is no information specifically in what field these investments are implemented. The parliament opposition says that Iranians have recently become interested in purchasing real estate in Georgia.

Diplomatic relations between Georgia and Iran was established May 15, 1992.

There is an Iranian embassy in Georgia and a Georgian embassy in Iran. Both countries have permanent diplomatic representatives.

Other forms of cooperation between the two countries, according to the Foreign Ministry information, are the following: permanent political dialogue in bilateral and multilateral formats; cooperation in the field of energy; transport, trade, education and science, and also cooperation within the frameworks of international organizations.

47 treaties are signed between the two countries, including the agreement between Georgian Republic and the Islamic Republic of Iran in the air transport sphere; agreement on Mutual Promotion and Protection of Investments; agreement to avoid double taxation and income and capital tax evasion; agreement about trade-economic and science-technical cooperation; the agreement about the trade cooperation between the Georgian government and the Islamic Republic of Iran.