STEPANAKERT (Combined Sources) — According to Russia’s state controlled news agency, the Foreign Ministry of Abkhazia has decided to sign an agreement with Artsakh on mutual visa-free travel. The move follows Abkhazian government’s announcement earlier in February, envisaging a simplified visa regime from April 1 for citizens of countries that have recognized Abkhazia’s independence.
Abkhazia is a partially recognized state controlled by a separatist government on the eastern coast of the Black Sea and the south-western flank of the Caucasus.
Abkhaz authorities plan to set up new border control checkpoints to offer visa on arrival, also eyeing a strict visa regime for all countries that refuse to recognize its independence. Abkhaz officials believe the new visa regime will help regulate immigration.
Meanwhile, the Press-Secretary of Nagorno-Karabakh Republic’s President David Babaya, Artsakh has welcomed this decision made by Abkhazia.
“I think this issue should not be politicized. I can say that we positively assess Abkhazia’s decision. We are interested in providing our citizens the opportunity to visit more countries without visas,” Babayan noted.
Babayan is sure that this step will contribute to strengthening and development of bilateral relations including in political, economic, cultural, and tourism fields.
Babayan noted that Azerbaijan’s policy is pathetic.
“I would like to ask official Baku whether it has a visa regime with the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus and whether Azerbaijani citizens need to receive visas to visit it. Why then Baku does not condemn its own policy in this issue?” Babayan questions.
To note, Abkhaz Deputy Foreign Minister Kan Taniya informed that Abkhazia prepares for signing an agreement on visa free regime with Transnistria and Nagorno-Karabakh. As he explained this decision is based on the Law on Procedure of Exit from Abkhazia Republic and Entry to Abkhazia Republic, which will come into force on April 1, 2016.
According to the law, from now on only citizens of those countries, which have recognized independence of the country and which have agreements on bilateral visa free regime will be allowed to visit the country.
Azerbaijan’s Foreign Ministry’s Representative Hikmet Hajiyev responded to this statement saying that Azerbaijan supports territorial integrity and sovereignty of Georgia. He also said that the Foreign Ministry of Azerbaijan calls for its citizens to avoid visiting territories, which are not controlled by the state authorities of Georgia without permission from relevant agencies of that country.