Turkey, Georgia agree on passport-free travel

Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu said on Saturday that Turkey and Georgia have already started works to allow citizens of both countries to travel with only state identity cards. Davutoğlu told a joint news conference with his Georgian counterpart, Grigol Vashadze, during his visit to Tbilisi that they plan to apply “single window customs” at the Sarp border gate, the largest and busiest gate in the Caucasus, facilitating trade transactions and enabling cross-traders to present their documents at a single location. Davutoğlu said it is a very serious initiative regarding the integration of the two countries’ economies.

Davutoğlu earlier met with Vashadze to discuss bilateral relations between the two countries, regional developments and ongoing restoration in the cultural heritage of Georgia in Turkey and Turkish heritage in Georgia. Ministers then headed delegations during a follow-up meeting, where they discussed ways to ease travel between the two countries. Turkey and Georgia don’t require visas for tourists to stay in the country for up to 90 days.

Speaking about the protection of mutual cultural heritage, Davutoğlu said it will be a important area of cooperation and that the historical churches in Turkey are also part of Turkey’s cultural heritage. The foreign minister promised that Turkey will continue necessary restoration work 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 shared cultural heritage for both countries.

Speaking during the press conference, Vashadze said they discussed “important subjects” concerning Turkey and Georgia, along with border facilitation works.Noting that he will meet again with Davutoğlu in the near future, Vashadze said they will discuss regional security issues and the Georgia-Russian conflict. Davutoğlu also held talks with Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili.