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EU Parliament committee supports Georgia’s visa liberalization issue

By Tea Mariamidze
Wednesday, April 27
The European Parliament’s Committee of Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs discussed the issue of visa liberalization for Georgia with the first reading and backed it on April 25. All the rapporteurs supported Georgia’s visa liberalization statement and thanked the Georgian MPs for the reforms implemented in Georgia.

The Committee members were addressed by European Parliament MP Maria Gabriel. The session was attended by the members of the Georgian Parliament too.

MP Maria Gabriel congratulated the Georgian delegation with the country's success and thanked the European Commission for their decision.

She said that she supports the introduction of visa liberalization for Georgian citizens. She reminded the Committee that EU citizens can stay in Georgia for 90 days.

“Georgia has fulfilled all the obligations and satisfied all criteria. A lot of work has been done for that,” said Maria Gabriel after the discussion.

The agenda of the committee includes the changes to be made in the regulation N 539/2001 of European Parliament and council, which implies moving Georgia from list 1 (countries which need visa) in list 2 ( countries which do not need visa for EU travel).

After the European Parliament’s Committee of Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs finishes discussions on the issue, it will be submitted for approval to the European Parliament plenary session. Finally, the resolution will be sent to the European Commission.

Visa liberalization with the EU will enable Georgian citizens with biometric passports to pay short-term visits (for 90 days within any 180 day period) to 22 EU countries, 4 non-EU countries and 4 Schengen zone candidate countries.

The parliamentary majority have positive expectation and stress on successful reforms carried out by the government. The opposition hopes that granting Georgia with visa-free regime will not be interrupted and the government will not make mistakes.

According to the Deputy Foreign Minister, Davit Zalkaliani, the committee discussion was very positive and it is very important that the discussion has been launched.

“All of the rapporteurs assessed Georgia’s activity very positively in terms of fulfilment of the action plan. They believe EU should grant Georgia visa liberalization,” he noted.

The Free Democrats opposition party assess Georgia’s progress positively. However, they fear that some actions of the officials might hinder the process of visa liberalization.

“Only some unreasonable actions of the government can hinder the process… Nobody wants that,” stated Zurab Abashidze, a member of Free Democrats.

The second hearing will take place on April 28.