TBILISI, April 23 (RIA Novosti) – The authorities of Georgia are holding talks with Moscow on the issue of easing visa regulations for Georgian businessmen, Agriculture Minister David Kirvalidze said on Monday.
The Georgian minister said that Prime Minister Zurab Abashidze wants the Russian Foreign Ministry to ease visa regulations for Georgian businessmen, who will be exporting their goods on the Russian market.
“As a result, [Georgian] businessmen will be able to obtain visas more easily in order to deliver their products to Russia and sell it later on the Russian market,” Kirvalidze said.
Russian consumer rights watchdog Rospotrebnadzor recently cleared 36 Georgian winemakers and four mineral water producers to resume deliveries to Russia, following an inspection in February.
Russia banned the import of Georgian wines and two popular brands of mineral water in 2006, claiming that they contained hazardous substances. Georgia described the move, which came as ties between the two ex-Soviet nations soured with the rise to power of pro-Western Georgian leader Mikheil Saakashvili, as politically motivated.
Georgian wines and mineral waters were very popular in the Soviet Union and retained much of that appeal after the Soviet Union broke up. Before the ban, Russia was the largest market for Georgian wines.
The head of the Georgian wine producers’ agency has said that Georgia is able to supply Russia with up to 10 million bottles of wine annually. Rospotrebnadzor chief Gennady Onishchenko said in February that Georgian wines could return to the Russian market as soon as the spring.