TBILISI, October 1. /TASS/. Georgian Prime Minister Giorgi Gakharia has welcomed a possible improvement in relations with Russia, namely the resumption of direct flights between the two countries, the Georgian government’s press service informed on Tuesday.
"I welcome the positive changes that may lead to an improvement [in relations with Russia — TASS], namely, the resumption of flights," Gakharia noted.
According to the Georgian PM, a possible resumption of direct flights to Russia will benefit "not only tourism, but also thousands of Georgians that face transportation problems." Gakharia stressed that the country’s economy must be braced for such events in the future and be able to manage potential risks.
Last week, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said in an interview with the Kommersant daily that resumption of direct flights between Russia and Georgia would be the right decision as the majority of Georgians realize that previous anti-Russian provocations were counter-productive.
On June 20, 2019, several thousand protesters amassed near the national parliament in downtown Tbilisi, demanding the resignation of the interior minister and the parliament’s speaker, and tried to storm the building. The protests were sparked by an uproar over the Russian delegation’s participation in the 26th session of the Inter-parliamentary Assembly on Orthodoxy (IAO). On June 20, IAO President Sergei Gavrilov opened the session in the Georgian parliament. Opposition lawmakers were outraged by the fact that Gavrilov addressed the event’s participants from the parliament speaker’s seat. In protest, they did not allow the IAO session to continue. Shortly after the turmoil in Tbilisi, Georgian President Salome Zurabishvili branded Russia an enemy and an occupier on her Facebook page, but later on said that nothing threatened Russian tourists in the country.
To ensure Russian citizens’ safety, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree, which imposed a temporary ban on passenger flights to Georgia from July 8. On June 22, Russia’s Transport Ministry announced that starting on July 8, flights by Georgian airlines to Russia are halted.