TBILISI, DFWatch – After a top Georgian lawmaker and the foreign ministry came out with critical remarks about a statement by Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov about visa rules, Georgia’s security council chief also added his comments.
Security Council Secretary Giga Bokeria said that ‘if Russia wants to cancel its visa regime with Georgia, they have a real chance to do this and there’s no point making up preconditions.’
Bokeria made this comment on March 15 while talking to journalists.
After Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili unilaterally canceled visa requirements with Russia, the Russian Federation proposed to restore the diplomatic relations with Georgia if the visa issue could also be solved.
Georgia broke off diplomatic relations with Russia after war in August 2008.
Georgia’s official response to Lavrov was that it will only restore diplomatic relations with Russia if Russia starts pulling back its occupying troops from Georgia’s breakaway regions Abkhazia and South Ossetia and cancels the decision regarding to recognize these territories as independent countries, which Russia did after the war in 2008.
According to Interfax, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on March 14 that Russia is ready to cancel its visa regime with Georgia if Tbilisi will amend the law on the occupied territories; specifically, the article, which applies criminal responsibility on Russian citizens who visit Abkhazia and South Ossetia.
“When Saakashvili announced that all Russian citizens may enter the country without a visa, he forgot to say that Georgia has a law ‘On Occupied Territories’, under which anyone who has even once in the past, after the war which Saakashvili started, visited South Ossetia and Abkhazia, is under criminal prosecution in Georgia,” Ria Novosti quoted him. These people risk from two to four years in jail.
“We repeatedly heard from Russia that they have nothing against Georgian people, but it never sounded reliable within occupation conditions. The Georgian president’s initiative about unilaterally canceling the visa regime was directed not towards the Kremlin or Putin, but the population. Now they have a chance to answer the same way, but they make up preconditions, because they do not want to make this step,” Giga Bokeria added.