Macedonian Experts Offer Advice on EU Visas
By Ernest Petrosyan
Tuesday, September 13A seminar regarding EU visa facilitation and readmission was held at the Caucasus Institute for Peace and Development on September 10. The seminar was opened by Macedonian expert Zhidas Daskalovsky, the director of “Mother Theresa” Public Policy School. Daskalovsky shared the Macedonian experience in arranging an EU visa regime facilitation and readmission agreement. This talk was followed by Maria Risteska, the executive director of the Research and Policy Making Centre in Macedonia, who shared the Macedonian experience of monitoring the implementation of a 'road map' in this direction.
“Civil society was very actively involved in these processes. People in Macedonia were demanding visa facilitation through peaceful demonstrations,” Zhidas Daskalovsky said. He also added that the visa facilitation bolstered emigration in the first two years, but mainly among national minorities.
The Macedonian experts positively assessed Georgian EU integration prospects. According to them, Georgia and Moldova have progressed the most in this regard from among the other Eastern Partnership member states.
During the seminar, a presentation on visa free entry prospects and its implications for the EU and Georgia was also conducted by Tamar Pataraia, the program manager at the Caucasus Institute, and the director of the European Initiative Liberal Academy, Keti Tsikhelashvili.
The EU is simultaneously holding negotiations regarding visa facilitation with the Russian Federation, which might have some negative consequences for Georgia, since it could facilitate travel for residents in Abkhazia and South Ossetia who carry Russian passports. “The EU visa facilitation process should proceed alongside that of the Russian Federation, otherwise it will hinder the reintegration process of those living in Georgia’s breakaway regions,” Tsikhelashvili said.
Georgia signed a visa facilitation and readmission agreement on June17, 2010 which came into force on March 1, 2011. According EU and Georgian officials, the process of visa liberalization will be continued.