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Georgian MFA tackling hotels2011-07-27 20:44
Georgia is discouraged: a small hotel in the center of Brussels, the capital of the European bureaucracy, has recognized the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. The watchful Georgian citizens found the names of the two former autonomies in the "country" section in the reservation form available on the hotel website. Their indignation was indescribable. The fact was reported not only to the media but even to the Foreign Ministry, which started an investigation so as not to miss the chance of blowing up another international scandal.
St. Nicolas Hotel is a small and modest hotel in the center of Brussels. It may be that the citizens of Abkhazia and South Ossetia regularly stay here. Anyway, the guests from these republics can check in as the citizens of these countries, not Russia or Georgia.
Such hospitable attitude towards the Abkhaz and Ossetians is something new for Europe; it is customary to demonstratively ignore the very fact of the republics' existence and their residents are so far not allowed to travel around the EU territory with their national passports.
But the situation gradually changes, and though the tourist flow from Abkhazia and South Ossetia to Europe consists of hundreds or, at best, thousands of tourists, people must be travelling to Brussels nevertheless, and the tourist business in this city is aware of the existence of the two Caucasian states.
The people coming from the former Georgian autonomies are not always treated kindly in Europe. More often, they are not welcome not only in the hotels of the European capitals but in the countries themselves. There was an incident on June 27 when a delegation comprising experts from Abkhazia and South Ossetia arrived to a conference in Vilnius. It was found out on their arrival that though all the participants had the Russian Federation passports, these passports were somewhat special for Lithuania. The border guards said they would not visa them. Then they suggested some temporary visas. The participants of the conference, with Lithuanian MFA being one of the initiators, were kept in the arrival lounge of the Vilnius airport for 13 hours. In protest, members of the Abkhaz delegation declared they were coming back. The incident was settled with much difficulty. But Lithuania is Georgia's loyal friend and ally, while Belgium and other European states are usually not so demanding to the citizens of Abkhazia and South Ossetia who come to Europe with Russian passports.