TBILISI, March 10 (Itar-Tass) – The Russian office of the Swiss Embassy in Georgia on Tuesday began to accept documents and issue entry visas to Georgian citizens, Russian diplomats told Itar-Tass on Tuesday.
Georgian citizens can get “educational and humanitarian visas (for example, in case of the demise of relatives or the need for medical treatment etc), and visas on invitation of close relatives living in Russia,” the diplomats said.
“At the present stage, as in the previous year, working and tourist visas will not be issued. As for business visas, these will be issued if Russian organization forward the relevant request to the Russian Foreign Ministry, and these organization are responsible for providing reception to the Georgian citizens going to Russia on business,” they noted.
The Russian office opened on March 5, simultaneously with the opening of the Georgian office of the Swiss Embassy in Moscow.
Russia stopped issuing visas to Georgian on September 2, 2008, after the Russian Embassy and consulate in Georgia and the Georgian diplomatic mission in Moscow shut down, following Tbilisi’s move to sever diplomatic relations with Moscow.
Georgia has not stopped issuing visas to Russian citizens. Georgian foreign ministry officials stated the other day that “Georgia has not and will not place restrictions on issue of visas to Russian citizens; they will be issued both upon arrival in the country and at the Georgian office of the Swiss Embassy in Moscow.”
On September 2, 2008, Georgia said it was breaking up diplomatic relations with Moscow in connection with Russia’s actions against Georgia in August 2008 and Russia’s recognition of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.
Georgia also said it would keep consular relations with Russia.
After the break-up of diplomatic relations, Moscow asked Berne to represent its interests in Tbilisi, and in early October the Swiss government gave its consent in principle, provided Georgia raised no objections.
Intensive negotiations with Moscow and Tbilisi were conducted for several weeks to determine details of this representation. Based on their results, two separate agreements with Russia and Georgia were drafted.
In December 2008, the government of the Swiss Confederation approved the relevant draft agreements with Moscow and Tbilisi, and instructed the foreign minister to sign these documents with the parties concerned.
Earlier this month, reports said flights from Tbilisi to Moscow via Yerevan would begin from March 10
A representative of Georgia’s Unified Transport Administration (ETAG) said the flights will be provided by Armavia, an Armenian airline.
“The Armenian company applied to ETAG to make flights en route Yerevan-Tbilisi-Yerevan 14 times a week,” according to the ETAG official.
Head of the Georgian part of the Georgian-Russian public commission on settling conflicts in the Caucasus Malkhaz Gulashvili announced on February 27 about plans to launch flights between Tbilisi and Moscow via Yerevan.
He said such flights would begin on March 1, but Armavia officials later said the date had been postponed “for technical reasons.”
The launching of flights does not imply the restoration of direct air link between Georgia and Russia, which was stopped on August 9, 2008.