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MOSCOW, January 21 (Itar-Tass) — The abolition of visa requirements between Russia and Georgia will become an important step towards an improvement in ties between the two countries, Catholicos Patriarch of All Georgia Ilia II said at talks with Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Kirill in his Moscow residence.
“The relations that exist between our countries could be better. The visa regime with Russia, for example, must be abolished,” the Georgian patriarch said.
Visa requirements for the two countries were imposed in 2000. In September 2004 Georgia unilaterally simplified visa procedures. From October 2010, residents of North Caucasian republics got an opportunity to enter Georgia through the Kazbegi checkpoint without visas and stay there for 90 days. In March 2012, Georgia fully abolished visa requirements for the Russian nationals.
Patriarch Ilia also said that “the Abkhazian issue” was “the underlying” one for mending ties between the two countries. “These two issues are the cause of all difficulties that exist in relations between our states,” he stressed.
“I believe we must be close friends and there must be understanding between us on all issues,” the Catholicos Patriarch added. “I have repeatedly said to Russian statesmen that Russia needs a united Georgia, while Georgia needs a united strong Russia. We need each other and the sooner this issue is settled the better it will be for Abkhazia and for Ossetia,” he stressed.