Georgia Restores Direct Flights With Russia, Risks Joining EU
The first direct flight from Russia to Georgia since 2019 landed at the Tbilisi International Airport on Friday, causing widespread controversy throughout the former Soviet state of Georgia. Many Georgians fear that restoring diplomacy with Russia could hinder their nation’s application to the European Union.
After an anti-Russia protest erupted in Georgia’s capital in 2019, Russia imposed a travel ban on direct flights between the two countries. On May 10, Russian President Vladimir Putin lifted the ban and reversed travel restrictions on Georgian citizens, allowing them to visit Russia for up to 90 days without a visa.
“Everything that will make life, movement and doing business easier for our citizens is, of course, positive and welcome,” said Irakli Garibashvili, Georgia’s prime minister and a founder of Georgia’s ruling party, Georgian Dream.
However, many Georgians view the situation differently.
Russia ‘not welcome’: After the announcement to lift the ban was made earlier this week, protesters gathered outside Georgia’s Parliament and the office of Georgian Airways, holding signs that read, “Russian aircraft won’t land us in the EU.”
More protesters gathered at Tbilisi International Airport on Friday when Russia’s first flight arrived.
Georgia’s pro-European president, Salome Zourabichvili, called the flight a “Russian provocation” and said, “Resuming direct flights and lifting visa ban with Georgia is unacceptable as long as Russia continues its aggression on Ukraine and occupies our territory!”
EU response: EU spokesperson of Foreign Affair and Security Policy Peter Stanto also expressed disapproval of Georgia’s decision to resume flights.
Due to the illegal Russian war against Ukraine, the European Union and a number of other countries introduced sanctions against the Russian aviation sector, and we and our partners do not allow flights from Russia, flights to Russia and flights over Russia. So this latest decision by Georgian authorities raises concerns in terms of Georgia’s EU path and Georgia’s commitment to align with the EU decisions in the foreign policy as foreseen in the EU Georgia Association Agreement.
Georgia’s future: Many Georgians would prefer to get out from under Russia’s sphere of influence and move closer to the West. One main goal for achieving this is joining the EU. However, the ruling Georgian Dream party seems to be undermining any such effort.
When Russia first invaded Georgia in 2008, Trumpet editor in chief Gerald Flurry wrote, “Russia’s attack on Georgia in August marks the beginning of a dangerous new era in history.” He explained that Russia would go on to capture more territory and even asked the question, “Will a crisis occur over Ukraine?” Time has proved Mr. Flurry to be right as 20 percent of Georgia is now under Russian occupation and Ukraine is in a deadly war with Russia.
Mr. Flurry based these predictions on Bible prophecy.
The Bible warns us to expect a great power rising from the East. It calls it “the kings of the east” (Revelation 16:12). The attack on Georgia was the first act of war from the kings of the east!
— Gerald Flurry, “Russia’s Attack Signals Dangerous New Era”
To understand why there is so much unrest in Georgia, read our article “Massive Anti-Russia Protests Erupt in Georgia.”