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Passport-free regime between Turkey, Georgia to begin on Tuesday

Source : Cihan News Agency
Konya : 27 May 2011

Citizens of neighboring Georgia and Turkey will be able to travel to each other's country with only their state identity cards, beginning on May 31.

A ceremony will be held at the Sarp land border gate on the very same day with the participation of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Georgia's President Mikheil Saakashvili and Georgian Prime Minister Nika Gilauri.

The modernized Sarp border gate will be inaugurated by the three leaders at the ceremony. By implementing a passport-free travel regime via the Sarp border gate -- through which approximately 2 million people pass in a year -- the traffic at the gate will also be eased. It is the main gate between the two neighbors through which almost 90 percent of road transport between the two countries passes.

Turkey's Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu, delivering a speech in Konya on Thursday where he was campaigning for the upcoming parliamentary elections on June 12, talked about the issue.

"The passport-free era with Georgia will start. That's to say, with identity cards. We are waiting for them to finish arrangements concerning the Georgian alphabet. Next week, we will finalize this during the prime minister's eastern Black Sea coast visit Inshallah," Davutoğlu was quoted as saying by the Anatolia news agency, as he participated in a monthly meeting of the Konya Chamber of Industry.

"Given that the human element is our most important resource, it is necessary to provide movement of the human element with the highest speed and remove any obstacles facing them ," Davutoğlu added.

During a visit to Tbilisi in February, Davutoğlu spoke about the protection of shared cultural heritage. He said at the time that it would be an important area of cooperation and that historic churches in Turkey are also part of Turkey's cultural heritage. The foreign minister promised that Turkey would continue necessary restoration on Georgian churches, adding that historical and cultural heritage in Ajaria and its capital, Batumi -- where a substantial number of Georgian Muslims live -- is also a mutual cultural heritage for both countries.

Immediately following the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, Turkey recognized the independence of Georgia, on Dec. 16, 1991, and on May 21, 1992, the Protocol on the Establishment of Diplomatic Relations between the two countries was signed.


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