By Messenger Staff
Tuesday, November 9The 3-4 November 2010 visit of the Iranian Foreign Minister, Manucher Motakki to Tbilisi has been labeled historic by officials from both countries. An agreement was signed between the two countries about a visa free regime and on the further development of cooperation.
The visa free regime between the two countries will come to force from 2011, after the document has been ratified by the parliaments of both countries. Even before today citizens of both Iran and Georgia have not experienced problems in obtaining visas. Now however there will be no need for a visa at all.
The act restored the historic tradition when we could travel both ways without obstacles, stated Iranian foreign minister.
In addition, Iran opened a consulate in the centre of Batumi at Europe Square which will facilitate Georgia’s transit capabilities, with more opportunities for the Caspian Sea basin to be linked with the Black Sea. Incidentally, Iran had a consular service in Batumi from 1883 till 1927. The visa free regime will certainly facilitate the development of tourism into both countries. According to statistical data in 2009 Adjara was visited by 250 tourists from Iran. In 2010 there were more than 5000 Iranian tourists. Altogether Georgia has been visited by more than 18 000 Iran citizens; presumably the visa free regime will further increase the number of Iranian tourists.
Currently the export of Georgian sheep into Iran is booming. The company Fast Plus plans to export 200 000 sheep to Iran before the end of this year, and the country will receive GEL 6 million worth of investment for the project.
Talking about the political aspect of the agreement, the Georgian leadership states that this visa free regime does not pose any kind of threat to the strategic partnership with the USA.
Deputy Foreign Minister Nino Kalandadze stated that it is no secret that Georgia is very much dependant on the support of the USA, and nobody should doubt the importance of this strategic partnership. Analyst Levan Tsutskiridze believes that Georgia would not have taken this step without prior consultation with the USA. The analyst also points out that cooperation between the two countries is not on the list of sanctions imposed by the UN against Iran, as Georgia cannot export arms to Iran nor does it have any materials necessary for nuclear programmes. Tsutskiridze also mentioned that the warming of Georgian-Iranian relations took place against the background of cooling Iranian-Russian relations.
It is significant that Russian foreign ministry representative, Andrey Nesterenko expressed his opinion that the visa free regime between two countries will not carry any threat against the third country. Iran officially confirmed that it is careful about regional security issues and confirmed once again its respect for the territorial integrity of all countries. Iran expressed its readiness to participate in peaceful resolution of conflict. He also talked about the possibility of holding joint meetings of the Caspian and Black Sea basin countries, where regional security issues could be discussed. Iran considers energy issues and transit to be cornerstones of regional cooperation.