Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov stated during the Munich Security Conference earlier this week that the prerequisite for softening the visa regime for Georgian citizens to enter Russia is cooperation between Russian and Georgian law enforcement agencies. The Russian foreign minister also said that the “complexity” of easing the visa free regime is related to ensuring security in Georgia, during a time when “extremists, terrorists, and drug dealers are trying to actively use ... the South Caucasus as a transit route region.”
“When we minimize the risks and fully sort out relations with Georgian and Russian law enforcement authorities, then we can talk about softening the visa regime,” Lavrov said.
Responding to Lavrov’s comment on February 21, the Prime Minister’s special representative for relations with Russia, Zurab Abashidze, responded that that there are many aspects which assure Georgia’s security policy.
Abashidze noted that “around one million tourists came to Georgia from Russia last year. This number and the fact that Russian tourists are comfortable in Georgia is proof that the quality of our security is high. There is research and international organizations which can also attest to that… That’s why Lavrov’s words that the Caucasus region is turning into a transit route for extremists and terrorists is wrong.”
“As far as we know, 2000 Russian citizens have departed from Russia to Syria and Iraq,” Abashidze commented.