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EU commissioner promises visa-free travel to Georgians soon

By Tea Mariamidze
Monday, April 4
The EU Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship Dimitris Avramopoulos assessed Georgian reforms positively and expressed firm support to Georgia’s visa liberalization with the European Union (EU) while he paid his official visit to Tbilisi on March 2.

Avramopoulos met with the Prime Minister of Georgia, Giorgi Kvirikashvili. The two talked about the European Commission's report, which positively assessed the reforms carried out by Georgia and discussed the implementation of legislative and institutional changes defined in the EU Association Agreement.

"Georgia, which has fulfilled all conditions for visa liberalization, gave the best example to the countries in the region and continues its successful movement towards European integration,” said the Commissioner at a press-conference held after his meeting with the PM.

On March 9 2016, the European Commission made a proposal to lift visa requirement for Georgian citizens. However, before it can go into force, the proposal has to be approved by the European Parliament and the Council of European Union, a body representing the executive governments of the EU member states.

Avramopoulos hopes that the proposal will be approved soon and Georgian citizens will enjoy visa-free travel to Schengen countries. But he noted that visa liberalization does not grant the citizens of Georgia the right to be employed in EU.

“I think the European Parliament will support our proposal on visa liberalization and it will happen in a very short period of time,” stated the EU official and thanked the Georgian PM and the government for their cooperation and hard work.

Prime Minister Kvirikashvili thanked Avramopoulos for supporting the Georgia-EU visa liberalization process and expressed hope that in the coming months the process of visa liberalization will be successfully completed and Georgian citizens will travel to EU member states for short-term visits.

"We are especially grateful that the European Commission has assessed the reforms in Georgia very positively. I would like to thank him for firmly supporting the Georgia-EU visa liberalization process and his personal efforts,” said Kvirikashvili.

Dimitris Avramopoulos also met with Georgia’s Foreign Minister Mikheil Janelidze.

The Commissioner noted that Georgia is a reliable partner of the EU, which is proved by the strong political will of Georgia in the direction of the Euro-Atlantic integration and by constant efforts to implement reforms and establish EU standards.

According to Avramopoulos, consideration of the issue of visa liberalization will be launched in the European Parliament and the EU Council next week.

Georgian Patriarch Ilia II hosted the Commissioner and his delegation in his residence and asked for assistance in the visa liberalization process.

"We have a great desire to see Georgia as a member of EU. We are grateful for what you have done for Georgia. Georgia is in need of your help. We have not restored the territorial integrity of our country," said the Patriarch, and expressed satisfaction that Avramopoulos is an Orthodox Christian himself.

The EU Official thanked the Patriarch for his invitation and noted that Ilia II is one of the most well-known and respected religious leaders not only in Georgia but also abroad. He promised that after passing the necessary stages, Georgia will become an EU member.

“Georgia is not alone, Europe stands next to it. Georgia deserves more freedom, more opportunities for progress, development and economic growth,” Avramopoulos stated.

The Commissioner said that all parties and organizations in Georgia should unite in order to become a European Union member state.