I do not support the resumption of flights with Russia.
At a time when each and every western partner is eager to demonstrate, through words or deeds, its full solidarity with Ukraine’s unwavering fight, I consider, and for that matter am convinced that the vast majority of my fellow Georgians would acquiesce, that the reaction of the government and that of the ruling party to the latest Lavrov “suggestion” is – to say it mildly- incomprehensible.
Arguing as they do that it is the fate of our fellow Georgians in Russia that they have at heart does not convince me either, since despite repeated efforts, I have not been able to get the authorities to agree to the easing of criteria for granting citizenship, which indeed is the utmost concern and core priority for our compatriots abroad, in particular today for those living in Russia wishing to return to their native homeland.
It is one of Russia’s old stratagems at work, the Kremlin throwing a bait, in the hope of creating a rift with our partners: and that of course cannot be allowed.
Instead of opening flights for even more Russian citizens to enter Georgian territory, it is our responsibility, and I have called on the government to that effect, to thoroughly address the issue of the Russian influx into the country, taking into account its multiple dimensions, be it social, political or economic. It is our responsibility towards our citizens to tackle the issue with utmost precaution so that they feel their national and security interests are well taken into consideration. To that effect, we need to regulate business registrations, property acquisitions, working permits or the opening of Russian language schools.
Finally, instead of welcoming the resumption of flights, our authorities should take measures to actively protect the country’s reputation: the suspicions that have been voiced about alleged circumvention of sanctions through our territory, which are not acceptable if not based on actual and undisputed facts (and that is not the case to the best of my knowledge), should be challenged officially, publicly and through diplomatic channels, in order to clear all possible reputational damage.
That and the consolidation of our European path should be our one and only priority … not resuming flights to and from Moscow!!!