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Georgia-Russia dialogue helped visa waiver with EU

By Messenger Staff
Monday, February 6
“One of the factors of the success of our European project was the dialogue with Russia,” says Zurab Abashidze, Georgia’s Prime Minister's Special Representative for Relations with Russia. The post was created by the current Georgian Dream leadership to carry out negotiations with Russia solely for trade-economic issues.

Abashidze called the European Parliament's decision to grant visa waiver to Georgia “historic”, and added that "this is clear evidence that the country has a reasonable foreign policy.”

"The European Parliament adopted a historic decision regarding visa liberalization and it is very good evidence that Georgia has a reasonable foreign policy in this difficult time and difficult region.

“I hope that this example of our experience will be used by our partner countries to achieve the similar results - I am referring to Ukraine and other countries with which we have friendly relations,” Abashidze said.

He stressed that one of the factors of success in terms of visa liberalisation was the dialogue with Russia.

“Without it, it would have been very difficult to sign the Association Agreement with the EU and to achieve success on visa liberalization”, said Abashidze.

According to him, Russia had enough leverage to hamper the process.

As for the question of whether the visa liberalization will become a factor for Russia to cancel its own visa regime with Georgia, Abashidze said it would be the right decision, but it was up to Russia.

However, Russia remains a very powerful enemy, which still occupies 20 percent of Georgia's land.

If Georgia were dragged into another armed conflict with Russia, it would be very hard for the country to achieve any success, as reforms and development require peace.

Russia is unless likely to be happy with Georgia’s European intentions, however the country’s reaction would likely be very different if Georgia achieved the same level of success with NATO.