But eyebrows are also shooting up about another bit of visa diplomacy. Iran’s Foreign Minister, Manouchehr Mottaki, signed a bilateral agreement on visa free travel with Georgia during a two-day visit to the country last week. This is part of a broader pattern of cooperation between the two countries that began earlier this year. Direct flights between Tehran and Tbilisi resumed on the same day. Mr Mottaki also opened a new consulate in the seaside city of Batumi, an increasingly popular destination for Iranian tourists. Crucially for Tbilisi, instead of recognizing the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, he underlined Iran’s support for Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. Further investment deals on transport and energy projects are on the table (Georgia began exporting electricity to Iran a few months ago).
It is hardly a meeting of minds: Georgia is an overtly western-orientated democracy that positioned itself as the United States’ greatest ally in the region. It has just rolled up a spy ring run by Russia’s fearsome GRU military intelligence. And Georgian spooks have given more details of a coup in which they nailed an attempt to smuggle (Russian) highly-enriched uranium.