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Russia not happy with Georgian foreign policy

By Tea Mariamidze
Friday, June 30
Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister, Grigory Karasin, says that current government of Georgia is no different from ex-President Saakashvili’s regime, especially with regards to accusing Russia of occupying the Abkhazia and South Ossetia regions.

The statement was made by Karasin in his interview with the Izvestia Russian news agency.

"Unfortunately, instead of building a good-neighborly and equal dialogue with their neighbors — Abkhazia and South Ossetia — Tbilisi, with maniacal persistence, keeps repeating that they were 'occupied' by Russia. This absurd thesis is used as an argument for further rapprochement with NATO," he stressed.

Karasin claims that Georgia's cooperation with NATO takes such forms that it actually makes Tbilisi a participant of NATO's policy to deter Russia.

"It is sad that the position of the current Georgian authorities is not different from the position of the regime of former Georgian President Saakashvili,” he added.

Karasin also said that Russia and Georgia are preparing to simplify the visa regime for pilots who perform flights between the two countries. According to him, even at the time of Saakashvili's rule, Russia has always been trying to improve and simplify the relations between the two countries.

“In 2016, visas issued by us for Georgian citizens were nearly doubled,” he added.

Karasin said that Georgia annulled visas for Russian citizens for one reason – to attract more tourists.

“Georgia abolished visas not only for Russians but for about one hundred other countries unilaterally. Usually this is the practice of the states that strive to attract more foreign tourists,” he added.

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

After the Russia-Georgia war of 2008, Georgian citizens were only given 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, though Russia maintained its complicated procedures until now.

In December 2015, the Russian Foreign Ministry said it was "determined” to continue to take steps to alleviate the conditions of communication between citizens of the two nations.