Georgia tells Russian FM country is safe for tourists

Georgia’s ministry of foreign affairs has told Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov that the country is safe for tourists arriving from Russia.

“The safety of all foreign citizens and tourists, including Russians, is fully ensured (…) as Georgia is a safe country and this is confirmed by the EU and many international ratings,” said Georgian foreign ministry spokesperson Vladimir Konstantinidi.

His comments follow an interview Mr Lavrov gave the weekly Argumenti i Fakti on July 16, in which the Russian foreign minister said that his government’s ban on flights to Georgia can be removed only if the Georgian authorities guarantee the safety of Russian citizens travelling to the country and “eliminate the existing threats” to their security. “We expect the Georgian leadership to stop (..) the danger of further unfolding anti-Russian hysteria.”

Mr Konstantinidi added the withdrawal of Russian troops from Abkhazia and Tskhinvali (South Ossetia), the two Georgian regions occupied by Russia during the 2008 war, would be the only way to break the deadlock in bilateral relations. “At the same time, we should preserve the progress we have achieved in trade, economic and humanitarian relations. To retain the progress, the current tension should be eased,” he said.

Russian president Vladimir Putin ordered a complete flight ban to Georgia from July 8 after protests in Tbilisi against Russia’s occupation of the two Georgian breakaway regions.