In response to Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov’s remarks about the possible resumption of direct flights with Georgia, President Salome Zurabishvili said she “does not welcome it.”
“We should understand that Russia pushes such issues to the forefront when it hopes to drive the wedge between our western partners and us,” President Zurabishvili noted, saying that Georgia should not fall for these “old tricks.”
She stressed that while all partner countries express solidarity with Ukraine, “the position of the [Georgian] government and the ruling party is very difficult to understand.” Zurabishvili was referring to Irakli Kobakhidze, chairperson of Georgian Dream, who called the possible resumption of flights “a welcoming development.”
The President dismissed as duplicitous the government’s argument that it was caring for the interests of Georgians living in Russia, saying that despite her attempts, the government did not deliver on “easing the criteria for granting the citizenship” that worries Georgian citizens living abroad, including in Russia, most of all.
President Zurabishvili stressed that instead of focalizing on the issue of flights, “the government should care for the country’s reputation and give convincing responses to all accusations voiced against the country, namely about [Russia] bypassing sanctions through Georgia.”
She also urged the government to comprehensively study the issue of Russian citizens’ migration to Georgia so that “the society develops a conviction that country’s national interests and security are protected.”
“We need regulations regarding the labor rights, business registration, purchase of property, or opening of a Russian-language school,” she added.