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    Lack of Ties Between Russia, Georgia Impedes Visa-Free Regime - Official

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    The lack of diplomatic relations between Russia and Georgia present an obstacle to introducing a visa-free regime between the two countries, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Grigory Karasin said Tuesday.

    MOSCOW (Sputnik) – Earlier in the day, the Russian Foreign Ministry said that Georgian citizens would be able to receive simplified work, study and humanitarian entry visas as part of a normalization process starting Wednesday. It added that a visa-free regime may be introduced "on a reciprocal basis" sometime in the future.

    "First and foremost, the absence of diplomatic relations [hinders a visa-free regime], but there are other obstacles including the currently unfolding fight against international terrorism," Karasin told RIA Novosti. "Every state, Russia first of all, is worried about the safety of their own citizens, their own country, their own borders."

    Tbilisi severed diplomatic relations with Moscow in August 2008 after Russia recognized the independence of South Ossetia and Abkhazia following Georgia's military offensive against the two breakaway republics.

    The Georgian government that came to power in 2012 said that one of its priorities was to restore friendly relations with Russia. The ruling Georgian Dream coalition simultaneously pledged to continue attempts to return the two breakaway provinces with the help of NATO and the European Union.

    Russian President Vladimir Putin announced at an annual national press conference last week he was ready to restore diplomatic ties with its Caucasus neighbor and abolish its visa regime.

    Under the present system, Russian citizens are granted 90 days of visa-free visits to Georgia. Georgian citizens, conversely, are required to apply for a visa to travel to Russia.


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