Toughening visa regime with Turkey, Ukraine another blow to Georgia

Politics Materials 17 February 2009 17:53 (UTC +04:00)

Azerbaijan, Baku, Feb. 17 / Trend , E.Tariverdiyeva /

The tightening of the visa regime with Turkey and Ukraine will be another blow to Georgia and the proof of friendship between Ankara and Kiev towards Moscow.

"The tightening of the visa regime with Turkey will be another blow to Georgia and, in particular, to the image of President Mikheil Saakashvili," an expert on the South Caucasus at the European Center for Policy Amanda Akcakoca said.

Last week, Ukraine and Turkey announced its intention to reconsider the visa regime with Georgia.

According to the Georgian Deputy Foreign Minister David Dzhalaganiya, Turkey is reviewing the check point regime on their border for pedestrians.

According to experts, the decision of Turkey and Ukraine to tighten visa regime with Georgia, not only dictated by the need to secure the border, but also a desire to support Moscow.

If Ukraine and Turkey will decide on introduction of visa regime for Georgia, it would mean the victory of pro-Russian forces in those countries, said Georgian expert Irakli Sesiashvili.

Moscow seeks to restrict freedoms of Georgia and pressure on its partners for introduction of any type of restrictions on the citizens of Georgia.

Turkey's decision can be considered as a convergence of the Russian-Turkish interests, Turkish expert Guner Ozkan said. "The tightening will not affect Turkish-Georgian relations, as Georgia is an important economic partner for Turkey," Center for Strategic International Studies Usak expert Ozkan said to Trend . However, the current situation is the desire of Turkey to send a diplomatic message to Russia's support and willingness to Ankara to cooperate with Moscow in the region, says the expert.

"The possible changes to visa requirements could be used for diplomatic pressure on Georgia," Transatlantic and Caucasus Studies Institute Director Ziba Norman said to Trend .

In a country already with a list of problems a mile long, it will be just one more blow for Georgia and in particular President Saakashvili particularly given that both Turkey and Ukraine have always been views as close allies and supporters of the country, Akcakoca said.

Experts believe that the necessity to tighten the visa regime is valid and has no political motives.

This measure may be taken because of the increasing problem of organised crime particularly big criminal networks that are moving between the countries carrying out criminal activities such as burgularly, and selling on illegal passports, Akcakoca said.  

Therefore there was a strong need to review the visa-free regimes currently place given that Georgia are ineffectively tackling this problem.

Georgian experts stated that the official Tbilisi welcomes enhancing of crime combat, but the introduction of visa regime will damage thousands of citizens, who are presently work in Ukraine.

However, the ex-Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze believes that we are talking about some minor limitations. "This will not affect the relations between the countries, but rather to have an impact on some of the people, and I do not think it is a catastrophe for Georgia," Georgian ex-President Eduard Shevardnadze said to Trend .

R. Agayev (Moscow) contributed in the article.

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