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Letter to the Editor

Thursday, September 18

Dear Sir:

Following the recent developments, the Georgian Parliament has decided to sever diplomatic ties with the Russian Federation. While this is understandable, such a measure should be followed by a human, social, and political compliment. It is good news that complications that were about to be introduced into the visa procedures were scrapped, but I would like to argue that our Government should go even further and unilaterally cancel visa requirements for citizens of the Russian Federation, something it should have done years ago when the visa regime was introduced. This of course, should not prevent the Georgian Government from declaring particular citizens of the Russian Federation, for example, those serving in the Russian Army, as personae non gratae and refusing them the right of entry.

Those citizens of the Russian Federation who have ties to Georgia – those who are originally from Georgia, have relatives and friends or business interests in Georgia – should be able to visit easily. We also need to encourage tourists from the Russian Federation. Those citizens of Russia who support the occupation of Georgia are extremely unlikely to even think of visiting Georgia. However, there are those who support Georgia and who would like to demonstrate their support by visiting our country. Visa procedures may keep out not only those who do not even care about visiting Georgia but also those who are keen on visiting Georgia and showing their solidarity.

Finally, given that the visa regime introduced by the Russian Government hurts the sizeable ethnic Russian minority in Georgia, lifting the visa requirement will send a straightforward and powerful message: “We care about our own people and friends, the Russian Government doesn’t.”

To summarize, the current visa regime punishes the friends of Georgia, and does nothing to its enemies. Its cancellation would reward Georgia’s friends and serve as a gesture of goodwill for ordinary people on both sides of the frontier.

Robert Tchaidze,
Assistant Professor
International School of Economics at TSU

This article represents the views of the author only and does not represent the views of ISET or any other institution.