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TBILISI, December 23. /TASS/. Georgia will hail Russia’s steps towards further visa liberalization or cancellation, Georgian Prime Minister’s envoy on relations with Russia Zurab Abashidze said on Friday, commenting on Russian President Vladimir Putin’s statements.
"In 2011, Georgia’s authorities unilaterally cancelled visa travel for Russian citizens. Since the beginning of the current year, Russia has simplified visa issuance procedures for Georgian citizens. If the Russian side takes further steps towards visa liberalization of cancellation for Georgian citizens, we will hail it. We understand that this issue is the competence of the Russia authorities," he said.
At his traditional annual news conference earlier on Friday, Russian President Vladimir Putin said he doesn’t rule out Russia may cancel entry visas for Georgian citizens. "I think such decision would be reasonable partly because we see that Georgia’s authorities have been sending some positive signals," the Russian president said. "It is very important that secret services and law enforcement agencies establish normal contacts between them in order to cooperate in combating terrorism, so we need to be sure that visa waiver will not damage our security. I think it is possible."
Russia imposed entry visas for Georgian in 2000, later Georgia made a similar step. In 2004, Georgia unilaterally simplified visa issuance procedures for Russian citizens who can now obtain one-to three-month visas upon arrival in the country. In 2011, Georgia granted visa-free entry for a period of up to 90 days for Russian citizens residing in North Caucasian republics and entering the country via the Kazbegi checkpoint. In March 2012, Georgia abandoned entry visas for Russian nationals completely.