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Saakashvili: Georgia will cancel visa regime for the Russians29.02.2012 | 15:04
Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili stated that Tbilisi is ready to cancel visa regime for the citizens of Russia.
"I support a new initiative to unilaterally abolish visa regime with Russia ... It is necessary that every Russian businessman knew that he could come to Georgia, invest money, make money, do business, open a production and employ people. They also will be free to move, as well as representatives of other countries. We'll create the most convenient regime for them", Saakashvili said during his speech before the Georgian MPs, as reported by RIA Novosti.
"Georgia will never be closed for Russian investors and Russian tourists. Because I expect that where the business is actively developed, there is no room for the rumble of tanks. Therefore, we give a greater chance to the world", Saakashvili added.
Recall, the Georgian authorities have already decided to abolish the visa regime for residents of the North Caucasian republics: Dagestan, Chechnya, Ingushetia, North Ossetia - Alania, Kabardino-Balkaria, Karachaevo-Cherkessia and Adygea. According to Tbilisi's decision, they may stay in the country without a visa within 30 days.
This initiative has provoked sharp criticism of the Russian authorities and representatives of the Georgian opposition. Thus, the leader of the party "Democratic Movement - United Georgia" Nino Burjanadze expressed her dissatisfaction with the decision of the Georgian authorities to provide the residents of the North Caucasian republics the right to visa-free visit.
On behalf of the party headed by Burjanadze there was issued a statement noting that the decision of Georgian President on unilateral abolition of visa regime would not work without Russia's consent and "cannot perform any humanitarian mission".
At the same time, Burjanadze called the decision of the Georgian authorities "provocation".
In turn, the Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov also called this proposal "provocation". The deputy presidential envoy of the Russian Federation in the North Caucasian Federal District Arkady Yedelev noted that such issues should be discussed at the bilateral level, "not on a whim and desire of Saakashvili".
In the opinion of one of the leaders of the opposition "Georgian Party" Sozar Subari, the statement that Georgia's mission is liberation of the North Caucasus from the Russian Federation - this is nonsense. "The authorities have not considered what it could give the country", Subari said commenting the cancellation of the visa regime.
Former Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze has also criticized the government's decision to impose visa-free regime for the residents of the North Caucasian republics.
"I'm worried and scared of this decision, since it may result troubles for Georgia", the Trend led the words of former head of Georgia.
According to Shevardnadze, currently, there are no conditions to ensure safety at Georgia's borders. "In addition, we cannot exclude the exodus of the Chechens to Georgia, as it happened after the first Russian-Chechen war: that time we could barely cope with the flow of people. They were instructed to destroy the Kakheti region and Abkhazia, but we treated them with humanity, and they gave up these plans. But are we ready for such a flow of people now? Our government cannot maintain even our citizens", Shevardnadze said, adding that the decision of the official Tbilisi may dramatically damage relations between Georgia and North Caucasian peoples, mainly the Chechens.
In turn, the deputy director of the Center for Current Politics, Alexander Shatilov believes that the abolition of visas for the North Caucasus would hit Georgia. According to him, thus the official Tbilisi has questioned the territorial integrity of Russia and in fact defied Moscow, having virtually "separated" a federal district from it.
"Apparently, the president of Georgia cannot recover from the shock of 08/08/08 and seeks to repay Russia in the same coin", he said.
The expert added that the issue of territorial integrity is more relevant for Georgia than for Moscow, since in addition to Abkhazia and South Ossetia, lost for Tbilisi for ever, we can speak about the problems of "self-isolation" of the Armenians, the Azerbaijanis, the Ajarians, the Svans and the Megrelians.
"Georgia today is a "patchwork", which may tear at the seams as soon as the position of Saakashvili's team degrade and the regime finds itself in a state of system crisis", Shatilov said.