Feb 06, 2017

Abkhazia: EU Visa Free Travel Denounced as Georgian Trap by Foreign Ministry


Photo courtesy of Clay Gilliland @flickr.com

In opposition to the Georgian Prime Minister’s statement on 2 February 2017 that Abkhazian citizens would also benefit from the EU’s visa free regime with Georgia, the Abkhaz Foreign Ministry declared that such an arrangement would instead only be valid for Georgian citizens. Only putting an end to the political isolation of Abkhazia, perpetrated by the Georgian authorities, can ensure travel freedom for Abkhazians to Europe. Therefore, the Foreign Ministry demanded that Georgia abandon its policies directed at denying Abkhazian citizens entry to EU countries.

Below is an article published by the Eurasia Review:

De facto Abkhaz and South Ossetian Foreign Ministries commented on February 2 [2017] and February 3 [2017], respectively, on the statements of Georgian leaders that residents of the two breakaway regions would also benefit from the visa free regime.

Commenting on the statements, the de facto Abkhaz Foreign Ministry said that the European Parliament’s decision “can only apply” to citizens of Georgia and labeled Tbilisi’s offer as “futile political manipulation.”

“We regard the statement of Mikheil Janelidze as yet another crude attempt of Tbilisi authorities to “entice” citizens of the Republic of Abkhazia in the political and legal sphere of Georgia. It is clear that following the complete failure of the so-called “neutral passports”, the Georgian authorities have decided to use another trap for citizens of Abkhazia in the form of the visa liberalization with the EU countries. There is no doubt that the new attempt of Tbilisi to drag in our citizens into Georgia, like all previous ones, are doomed to fail,” the de facto Abkhaz Foreign Ministry stated.

“If Georgian leaders are sincerely concerned about the freedom of movement of Abkhazia’s citizens, then they should abandon the policy of international isolation of our citizens, who, owing to Tbilisi, are denied entry to the EU countries,” the de facto MFA said.

“We call on the European institutions again to refuse supporting the populist steps of Georgia, and emphasize on the need of taking real measures aimed at deisolation of citizens of Abkhazia,” the statement added.

Similar to the Abkhaz MFA, the de facto South Ossetian Foreign Ministry denounced Tbilisi’s statements as “illogical” and said that the EU-Georgia relations “concern to citizens of Georgia only and does not apply to citizens of the Republic of South Ossetia.”

“The population of South Ossetia has made its choice in favor of independence 25 years ago and does not want to have anything in common with the Georgian state. Unable to realize its plans for the annihilation of the South Ossetian people through aggression, Georgia has employed all sorts of promises and propaganda tricks. However, the incumbent Georgian authorities, like their predecessors … hamper the international communication of South Ossetia in every way possible,” the de facto South Ossetian Foreign Ministry stated.

The statement said that South Ossetian citizens “hold Russian citizenship as well, which enables them to travel the world,” but added that “it is the very Georgian authorities and their western sponsors, who create obstacles on entry to the EU countries.”

Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili said on February 2 [2017], after the European Parliament’s vote that “drawing closer to Europe is something that belongs to all of Georgia.” “We are especially happy that our Abkhaz and Ossetian compatriots will join us in enjoying the benefits offered by close relations with Europe, be it the visa-free travel to European countries, the EU market for businesspersons, participation in European educational programs, or many other [opportunities].”

President Giorgi Margvelashvili also stressed that the visa free regime would be available to residents of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. “I would like to underline that, our Ossetian and Abkhaz compatriots will witness and be able to benefit from the results,” Margvelashvili stated.

Foreign Minister Mikheil Janelidze wrote in his twitter post that “the visa free travel will also be important to Georgian citizens living in the occupied regions, giving them a chance to benefit from visa liberalization and close ties with the European Union.”