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Top Georgian airline wants flights between Russia & Georgia restored

Top Georgian airline wants flights between Russia & Georgia restored
Georgian Airways, the flagship airline of the Eurasian country, has praised recent statements by Russia’s foreign minister about the possible lifting of a ban on direct flights between the two countries.

The management of Georgian Airways welcomes the statement made by Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in connection with the restoration of flights between Georgia and Russia,” the airline said in a statement on Saturday. The statement also noted the need to restore flights between the two countries “in accordance with international agreements.”

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Earlier in the week Sergei Lavrov had said that resuming direct air traffic between Russia and Georgia would be the right decision, as most Georgian citizens “realized the counterproductive, provocative nature” of the anti-Russian demonstrations that had taken place last summer. From July 8 the Russian government temporarily banned Russian airlines from transporting Russian citizens to Georgia and suspended Georgian carriers’ flights to Russia.

The sanctions were imposed after several thousand people staged an anti-Russian rally near the parliament building in the capital, Tbilisi, on June 20. The rally followed an incident at the Georgian parliament, when Georgian opposition MPs disrupted the Inter-Parliamentary Assembly on Orthodoxy (IAO) attended by representatives from Russia, bringing it to a halt and insulting the IAO President – and head of the Russian delegation – Sergey Gavrilov. A series of anti-Russia and anti-government protests followed and, a day before the flights ban came into force, aTV host aligned with Georgia’s opposition harshly insulted President Vladimir Putin on air. In its statement, however, Georgian Airways called the flight ban “unilateral and without foundation,” expressing hope that the Russian government will lift the suspension of regular communication between the two countries.

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Lavrov said on Friday he had discussed resuming flights to the former Soviet Republic with his Georgian counterpart, David Zalkaliani, during their meeting on the sideline of the UN General Assembly in New York. Lavrov stated that, in order to resume air transportation links with Russia, Tbilisi should stop “following Russophobes” and begin to mend relations with Russia.

“I explained to him that we never sought artificial reasons for a quarrel with Georgia, and if the Georgian leadership can responsibly advance towards normal relations with Russia and will not follow Russophobes, then we, I personally, would have the air transportation resumed,” the Russian minister said, at a press conference on Friday. He emphasized that the decision to suspend flights with Georgia was a temporary measure, and that it would be revoked “when the situation normalizes.”

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