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Georgia’s President comes out against restoring air traffic with Russia

Georgia’s President Salome Zourabichvili has called for stricter conditions of stay for Russians in the country and come out against restoring air traffic with Russia, as per an official statement.

“I do not welcome restoring flights to Russia! While all of our partner countries are expressing deepest solidarity with Ukraine’s selfless fight via words or actions, the government and the leading party’s position is unclear to me and, I’m certain, to the majority of people,” Zourabichvili states.

Photo: Salome Zourabichvili, socials

Photo: Salome Zourabichvili, socials

Zourabichvili says that she does not agree with the argument that restoring air traffic will help Georgians who reside in Russia. According to her, the Kremlin will “drop in” such topics to divide Georgia and its Western partners. Instead of restoring flights to Russia, the president proposes the government take care of Georgia’s reputation and respond to accusations of Russian nationals by-passing sanctions through Georgia.

“It’s necessary to seriously study the question of the flow of Russian citizens, including all the social and political characteristics involved, so that the public can feel that its national interests and security are being considered and protected. We need normative acts — in regards to labour rights, business registration, property acquisition, and Russian schools being opened,” the president adds.

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In July 2019, Russia stopped having direct flights to Georgia. The Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov previously said that flights would resume once the situation in Georgia returned to a “un-Russophobic path”.

“I’m glad that contacts between our people are fastly developing. I was told that last year Georgia’s GDP had grown by 10% largely due to tourism and commercial relations with Russia. I hope that we will be able to resume direct flights soon,” Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said in January 2023.

“When it comes to making things easier for our citizens, we welcome any such decision,” Irakli Kobakhidze, a representative of the leading party Georgian Dream, said in response.

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