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1 Feb, 2010 11:37

Russia, South Ossetia introduce visa-free travel

Russia and South Ossetia have lifted visa requirements between the two states.

The agreement was signed Monday in Moscow by Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and his South Ossetian counterpart, Murat Dzhioyev.

According to Lavrov, the move is “an important political act that will spur on further development of the strategic partnership” between Moscow and Tskhinval and also help to solve many problems at the border.

Russia recognized the state's independence, along with that of Abkhazia's, following Georgia's attack on South Ossetia in August 2008. So far, Russia has been joined by Nicaragua, Venezuela and Nauru in doing so. But Moscow is satisfied with the pace of the process, saying it is “normal.”

”In fact, it is more rapid than that of the recognition of Soviet Russia," Lavrov said as quoted by Interfax agency. He added that Soviet Russia was recognized by fewer states within the same timeframe.

"Once South Caucasian stabilization is de-ideologized, everyone recognizes the new reality and Abkhazia and South Ossetia strengthen their statehood, the recognition will become even more rapid,"
Russian FM said.

During the Monday meeting, the two diplomats summed up the results of joint efforts in restoring the region, as well as the effectiveness of foreign policy.

Lavrov said the Geneva consultations on security in the Caucasus must not be the only way South Ossetia and Abkhazia can speak to the international community.

"We are positive that the Geneva talks cannot be the only forum at which South Ossetia and Abkhazia can convey their points of view to the world,” he said. “This forum is behind closed doors, in contrast with the United Nations, the OSCE and the Council of Europe, which constantly raise the South Caucasian subject, but exclusively in the unilateral respect.”

“Russia will insist on the right of Abkhazia and South Ossetia to convey their position and opinion to the world," Lavrov said.