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Iran concerned over Georgia’s visa restrictions

By Tea Mariamidze
Tuesday, January 27
Iranian officials have expressed regret over Georgia’s decision in July, 2013 to scrap the visa-free rules for Iranian citizens. The complaint has been voiced in the course of Georgian Parliament Speaker Davit Usupashvili’s visit to Iran.

Responding to the statements Usupashvili said that the Georgian government is now working to ease visa procedures by introducing online application forms.

The Georgian parliamentary delegation, led by speaker of the legislative body Davit Usupashvili, have held official meetings with the chairperson of Iran’s Parliament Ali Larijani, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, and other high-ranking officials of the country.

The main topics of the meetings were related to boosting bilateral ties.

Rouhani said, according to the Iranian president’s office, that Tehran is seeking to strengthen cooperation with Georgia and noted that there is a huge untapped potential in economic relations.

He especially highlighted the cooperation in the energy and transport sectors, saying that Georgia can serve as a transit route to export Iranian gas to Europe and a railway can be used to link the Persian Gulf with ports in Georgia.

Usupashvili stated that Georgia and Iran, which have enjoyed many centuries of bilateral relations, need each other very much today.

“As the situation is getting more complicated in our neighborhood, as the level of confrontation increases and the threat of violence rises, terrorism is becoming more dangerous, the two countries should try to cooperate closely to reduce the various threats and benefit their economies,” Usupashvili said.

“Our government is working on interesting issues, which have the potential of initiating new, large-scale projects from which not only Georgian and Iranian people, but the whole region will benefit – cooperation in energy, transport, water and other sectors,” Usupashvili added.

The opposition and civil sector has criticized the current government for the new visa regulations through which 24 countries were deprived of visa-free travel to Georgia, while 94 retained the privilege. They stressed that the regulations created a threat for Georgia’s economic and tourism potential.