“Putin is a serious political figure. But no one would deviate from the European path. That is for Georgia’s crucial,” he said in an interview with the newspaper VIEW Chairman of the Committee on European integration Parliament of Georgia Levan Berdzenishvili, commenting on the words of the President of the Russian Federation about the possible abolition of visas for Georgian citizens.
“Yes, we think we’re ready to cancel visa regime with Georgia,” – said Thursday at a press conference the President of Russia Vladimir Putin. Currently, Russian citizens can visit Georgia without a visa, but citizens of the Republic must obtain a visa to visit Russia.
“The abolition of Russian visas for Georgian citizens should not be associated with the liberalization of the visa regime for Georgian citizens of Europe, and of this solution we expect from day to day”
Commenting on the deterioration of relations between the two countries, Putin recalled that Russia was responsible for the exacerbation. “No need to take the former leadership of Georgia and President Saakashvili such reckless decisions that led to the territorial disintegration of Georgia. It’s their fault. This wine is historic, and it’s on their shoulders entirely,” said the Russian head of state.
The political establishment in Georgia reacted to the words of Vladimir Putin about the possible abolition of visas positive. “We looked at today’s President’s statement about the possibility of abolishing the visa regime with Georgia. I think that this is a step in the right direction,” said Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili. The Chairman of the foreign relations Committee of Parliament Tedo Japaridze said that Tbilisi considers “interesting and positive” statement of the President of Russia.
However, in the words of Vladimir Putin in Tbilisi see not only positive signals but also certain pitfalls. In an interview with the newspaper LOOK told the Chairman of the Committee on European integration Parliament of Georgia Levan Berdzenishvili.
OPINION: was it a surprise to you Vladimir Putin’s statement about readiness to cancel the visa regime?
Levan Berdzenishvili (photo: video still)
Levan Berdzenishvili: a Conversation about the fact that Russia will soften or cancel a visa regime for Georgian citizens, being long in the format of regular meetings between the special envoy of the Prime Minister of Georgia for Russia Zurab Abashidze and Deputy Minister of foreign Affairs of Russia Grigory Karasin. This dialogue began in 2012, after the change of authorities in Georgia. The citizens of Russia visa in Georgia is not needed. It is therefore only natural that the citizens of Georgia would not have to take the Russian visa. Well, that Putin said this. But the most important thing is to understand now, don’t do lies behind his words, something.
LOOK: You mean some not made public the conditions of this offer?
L. B.: If Russia will drop the visa without any conditions, then it is a step in the right direction. But to pay some political price we will not. Already paid plenty! And again, the abolition of Russian visas for Georgian citizens should not be associated with the liberalization of the visa regime for Georgian citizens of Europe, and of this solution we expect from day to day. We have done a lot more work. That is, we don’t know meant anything Putin or not. But if you just cancel – it’s good for many of our citizens would be a relief.
OPINION: What is your personal opinion, the Russian President could mean something else?
L. B.: Putin is a serious political figure. Only he knows the answer to this question. But no one would deviate from the European path. That is for Georgia crucial. We will not waver from this choice.
OPINION: Recent polls say that about 30% of the citizens of Georgia would prefer the Eurasian Union to Western organizations and structures. After a year in Georgia the parliamentary elections. What do you think, in the Parliament of Georgia will receive mandates of members of the so-called Pro-Russian parties?
L. B.: the Chance to get into Parliament they have, but for 150 seats, they will have a tiny office, just a few mandates. For Georgian policy it will not change anything. And I personally do not believe the polls that show the figure of 30% of supporters of rapprochement with the Eurasian Union. I know the mood of our people, their aspirations connected with Europe. The success of the process of liberalization of the visa regime with Europe would be welcomed by the people of Georgia, who knows where better. Never in Georgia will have a Pro-Russian majority, is excluded. In Georgia, one will not forget that Russia has occupied our territories.
OPINION: Commenting on the deterioration of relations between the two countries, Vladimir Putin said that Russia was the cause of the exacerbation. In Georgia think about this?
L. B.: In Tbilisi believe that Russia is not fulfilling the peace agreement in 2008, has a military base, violating our airspace. Real convergence in politics there to this day, as has our territory. There are no diplomatic relations. Positive after the change of authorities in 2012 occurred only in trade-economic, humanitarian relations.
OPINION: Vladimir Putin has called the appointment by the Governor of Odessa ex-President of Georgia Mikhail Saakashvili “a slap in the face to the Ukrainian people.” And the Georgian people as apply now to this figure?
L. B.: Saakashvili of Georgia was useful and not useful to Ukraine. But they do have to come to this. He is not our citizen, and their. It’s their problem now. To invite experts, but invited officials I do not believe.
Note that the visa regime between Russia and Georgia this year was 15 years old. Moscow was entered due to the fact that the territory of the Russian Federation has been infiltrated by terrorists from the Pankisi gorge. According to various estimates, Russia now lives about 800 thousand Georgian citizens or natives of this country. In addition, the abolition by Russia two years ago, the embargo on Georgian products, which was introduced in 2007, has led to the growth of Georgia’s economy. Most of the wine, its strategic and branded products that Georgia exports to Russia, which supplies citrus, fruits, vegetables, herbs and so on.
Georgia each year attracts more and more Russian tourists, who do not need a visa to enter. Some experts say that now the growth will be even more significant – the Russians instead of Turkey or Egypt will choose Georgian resorts. The numbers speak for themselves: this year for 11 months arrived in Georgia 867 thousand Russians. This is 14% more than the same period last year. While diplomatic relations between the countries remain torn apart from the war of 2008.