Statement by Richard Boucher, Spokesman
December 5, 2000

The government of the Russian Federation has acted today to impose a visa regime on Georgia. Most Georgian citizens will now be required to hold a valid visa in order to travel to Russia; however, the Russian government plans to exempt residents of the breakaway Georgian regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia/Tskhinvali Region from this regime. While states can unilaterally establish the conditions under which they will allow foreigners to enter their territory, the international community is ill served when a country imposes requirements that directly challenge the fundamental basis on which a neighboring state is organized. While in this instance the matter is primarily one for bilateral negotiation between Georgia and Russia, the United States joins the European Union, in its statement of November 23, in expressing concern that Russia's intention to grant special privileges to residents of separatist regions runs directly counter to its stated policy of support for Georgia's sovereignty and territorial integrity.