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Parliament Speaker: ‘Elections are not a precondition for Georgia’s visa liberalisation’

By Messenger Staff
Friday, April 1
Georgia’s Parliament Speaker Davit Usupashvili says representatives of European institutions are “very satisfied” with Georgia’s progress towards Europe and stresses granting visa-free travel to the European Union (EU) states for Georgia has never been dependent on the upcoming parliamentary race.

Usupashvili made these statements after yesterday’s meeting with the head of the European Parliament Legal Affairs Committee, Pavel Svoboda, and Committee member Heidi Hautala on March 30.

The Parliament chairperson said people were interested as to how Georgia was fulfilling its Association Agreement (AA) and visa liberalisation obligations with the EU.

“They were extremely satisfied when they heard the answers to their questions and said the Committee will support Georgians' visa-free travel to Europe,” Usupashvili said.

“They also said that some recent statements over the connection of granting visa-free travel to Georgia with this year's parliamentary elections were just the personal opinions of certain European politicians, having nothing common with the general attitudes of the European Parliament,” the Parliament chair added.

This referred to recent statements of the President of the European People’s Party (EPP), Joseph Daul, who said if the upcoming elections in Georgia were not fair and transparent it would hinder the final stage of Georgia's visa liberalisation.

Usupashvili stressed that no domestic or foreign political force would be able to influence the decision made by the European Parliament.

“Georgia had its responsibilities and obligations taken through the Visa Liberalisation Action Plan (VLAP). All of these obligations have been completely fulfilled. No additional obligations regarding the elections or other issues are pending,” Usupashvili said.

Usupashvili said the exact date when Georgia would be granted the right of visa-free travel to the Schengen Zone was still unknown.

Based on previous statements made by Georgian and foreign officials, Georgia could receive a positive decision provided by the European Council and the European Parliament this summer.

The European Commission, which said Georgia had fulfilled all its VLAP obligations, has already appealed to the European Council and Parliament to discuss and make a final decision over Georgia’s visa liberalisation.

Granting visa-free travel to Georgians has significant social and political connotations.

When one praises the country for its commitment and effective reforms but at the same time refuses to somehow open its doors to that same country, this contradictory rhetoric will eventually affect relations and create a negative perception of the Union amongst the public.

Georgia is close to receiving visa liberalisation, and any refusal at this late stage will be a big disappointment for Georgians, and decidedly unfair.

Such a move will badly damage Georgia’s overall European expectations.