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PM Accuses UNM of Lobbying Against EU Visa-Free Regime for Georgia

Monday, November 23
PM Irakli Garibashvili accused the opposition UNM party of lobbying EU institutions against granting Georgia a visa-free travel regime to the Schengen area while the Georgian Dream ruling coalition is in government.

A UNM parliamentary minority leader, MP Davit Bakradze, responded to the allegation and dubbed it as being a part of the government’s blame-shifting tactics.

Speaking at a government session on November 19, the PM said that there is a “high probability” that the European Commission’s report on how Georgia is implementing its visa liberalization action plan expected in mid-December will be “positive”.

“Of course it will then require the consent of all 28 member states, which will take additional time, but at this stage I can say that the stance is optimistic in the EU,” said the PM, who visited Brussels earlier this week.

He thanked the ministries and state agencies for their “hard work” in carrying out reforms envisaged by the visa liberalization action plan.

“The [United] National Movement’s Davit Bakradze and [MP] Giorgi Kandelaki were the only ones in Brussels demanding not to grant visa free regime to Georgia… saying that granting a visa free regime to Georgia in the condition of current government is not desirable,” PM Garibashvili said.

“What else but enmity against our people and the country can we call it?” he added.

Responding to the PM’s remarks, UNM parliamentary minority leader MP Davit Bakradze said: “I can say unequivocally that we support decision on visa liberalisation to be taken promptly as it belongs to the Georgian people and not to Garibashvili’s government.”

“But we should understand that the only real threat posed today to visa liberalization is government’s actions in the country and government’s attempt to seize Rustavi 2 TV. Those attempts to shift [blame for] the problem on the opposition is a tragicomedy,” MP Bakradze said.