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Lavrov’s statement ‘neither new nor revolutionary’

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Friday, February 24
Georgia’s Minister for European and Euro-Atlantic Integration, Viktor Dolidze, says that Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s negative statements about Georgia were neither ‘new nor revolutionary’ for him.

Dolidze said he wasn’t surprised by Lavrov’s words that the South Caucasus was a route for terrorists and drug traffickers, and that abolishing visa travel for Georgia was depended on the restoration of the suspended diplomatic and police ties.

According to Dolidze Georgia’s response is unchangeable and firm.

“The response means that Georgia developing and it is proceeding forward and is an attractive country for investors and tourists.

“We plan to go ahead and ensure our citizens’ welfare; we are working towards NATO and EU integration, which will guarantee our regional security as well as Russia’s safety,” the Minister stated.

The opposition meanwhile says that no matter whether such statements are new or not, Georgia’s response must be “strong and immediate”.

Georgia’s Special Envoy to Russia Zurab Abashidze also responded to Lavrov and stressed that restoration of diplomatic ties between two countries, would never happen at the expense of Georgia giving up breakaway regions.

In December 2000, Russia introduced a visa regime with Georgia, and in 2006 it carried out a mass deportation of Georgians from Russia.

This fact became the matter of interest of European Court, which is carrying out investigation.

Moreover, after the Russia-Georgia war of 2008, Georgian citizens were only awarded a visa to travel to Russia if they had been invited by very close relatives.

Georgia’s former government annulled visas for Russian tourists in 2011, thus making it very easy to Russian citizens to travel to Georgia; however Russia stubbornly keeps the procedures complicated.

In December last year, the Russian Foreign Ministry said it was "determined” to continue to take steps to alleviate the conditions of communication between the citizens of the two nations.

However, until today nothing serious is done by Russian officials.