TBILISI, April 29 (RIA Novosti) – Georgia is not considering restoration of diplomatic relations with Russia, but plans to discuss visa facilitation on the part of Russia, Georgian Foreign Minister Maya Pandzhikidze said Monday.
“Russia recognizes two parts of Georgia as independent countries,” Pandzhikidze said. “Until this recognition is in place, restoration of diplomatic relations is not considered at any level.”
“Georgia unilaterally canceled the visa regime with Russia. Georgia has made many positive steps towards Russia. Speaking of visa facilitation is totally legitimate, and in the interests of our nationals,” Pandzhikidze said.
Russia introduced a visa regime with Georgia in 2000 to prevent militants from the Pankisi Gorge from entering Russia. After diplomatic ties were severed in 2008, Georgian nationals may restrictedly obtain visas in the Russian section of the Swiss embassy in Tbilisi.
Georgia broke off diplomatic ties with Russia after the two nations fought a brief war in August 2008 over South Ossetia, which, like Abkhazia, broke away from Georgia after the Soviet collapse.
Moscow has signed economic and military agreements with both republics since recognizing them as independent shortly after the 2008 war, and keeps ruling out any negotiations on their status. Most of the world’s nations consider Abkhazia and South Ossetia part of Georgia’s territory.
Georgia canceled visas for Russians on February 29, 2012.
A deputy Russian foreign minister, Grigory Karasin, said in March that Moscow may ease visa regulations for Tbilisi.