TBILISI, DFWatch–Georgia has canceled visa free rules for Iranian citizens, while Georgian citizens can still visit and stay in Iran for 45 days without a visa.
Georgia and Iran enforced rules for visa free travel from January 2011, until July 2 this year, when Georgia tightened the visa rules for Iranian citizens.
About two weeks ago, the Wall Street Journal published an article that says despite sanctions against Iran, Iranian businessmen are successfully investing in Georgia.
The article says Iranian products are sold on Georgian markets, while the government is buying Georgian lands, according to statements made by Iran’s agriculture minister to Iranian media.
“In recent months, Iranian nationals have taken the reins of a private Georgian airline, a major trade bank and a scrap-metal plant,” the article reads. “Persian is often heard, such as on a recent night at a Tbilisi casino, where Iranian tourists played roulette and sipped drinks brought by Russian hostesses.”
The article drew attention to the fact that Georgia allowed Iranian citizens to visit without a visa.
WSJ writes that the ‘business branch of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps has some 150 front companies in Georgia for the purpose of evading sanctions and importing dual-use technology.’
In response to this article, Georgian Justice Minister Thea Tsulukiani said that her government is ‘strictly controlling’ the fulfillment of UN sanctions against Iran and the country froze about 150 bank accounts held by Iranian companies and citizens.
The minister explained that when her country received lists from the UN in the form of a resolution, they check whether there are bank accounts of those Iranian companies or persons and then, after decision of a court, those accounts are frozen.
Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili, who visited Israel last week, said that Georgia implements every UN sanction.
“Nuclear weapons are dangerous,” he said. “We should all do everything together with the international community so Iran doesn’t have a nuclear weapon.”
An Iran-Georgia business forum is being held in Tbilisi right now. During the forum, which started July 2, representatives of Iranian companies told journalists that politics must be separated from business and they mustn’t harm business and economic relations between the two states.