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Georgia may get visa-free travel late September

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Monday, July 4
Foreign Minister of Germany Frank-Walter Steinmeier stated in Georgia that the country could receive visa-free travel in the European-Union’s passport-free Schengen Zone in the second half of September.

Stenmeier arrived in Georgia on July 1 to attend the opening ceremony of the annual Parliamentary Assembly of the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE PA), which is taking place in Tbilisi from July 1-5.

Before the opening of the event – which hosts more than 700 guests - Steinmeier met Prime Minister of Georgia Giorgi Kvirikashvili and Foreign Minister Mikheil Janelidze.

During the meetings, the German official stressed that “Georgia made unprecedented efforts to receive visa liberalisation with the European Union (EU).”

Consequently, he stressed Georgia’s efforts to receive the visa-free travel in the EU’s passport-free Schengen zone would be recognised and supported.

“We know well there are huge expectations in Georgia over visa liberalisation. I want to highlight that Georgia has taken huge steps to gain the opportunity and it was a very long process. I have stated and I will repeat that there is no question whether Georgia gets the visa-free travel or not, the question is that when this will happen,” Steinmeier said during the press-conference with Janelidze.

Steinmeier stressed an adoption of a restrictive mechanism for visa liberalisation was essential, which meant imposing restrictions or depriving a country of visa-free movement in case of certain violations.

“The issue is being discussed and I’m waiting the process to be completed in the coming weeks,” Steinmeier added.

In his speech at the OSCE PA event, Georgia’s Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili said granting visa-free travel for Georgia would be a signal of European Union’s (EU) “strong support to Georgia and a huge stimulus for the country to achieve more success in the future”.

The PM stressed that allowing visa-free travel for Georgians in the EU’s Schengen Zone was “one of the top issues” in Georgia-EU recent agenda.

Kvirikashvili stressed Georgia had “big expectations over the visa liberalisation and hoped the process would be completed successfully very soon.”

“Granting visa-free travel for Georgia will be a signal of the EU’s strong support to Georgia and a huge stimulus for us. Our people will feel that their European choice provides very definite benefits; furthermore, visa liberalisation will enable us better share our common values with the European family,” the PM said.

He also stressed that Europe was “a very clear choice” of the Georgian people as they knew it was the “best way for the country’s democratic development, security, peace and welfare.”

Speaking about OSCE role for the European security, the PM praised the intentions of the organisation.

However, Kvirikashvili said some new efforts and initiatives were needed inside OSCE as Europe faced “very serious security challenges”.

“For the first time after the Second World War Europe is facing attempts of forcible changes of its borders. In this situation, the OSCE is practically paralyzed.. Despite large-scaled protests, no practical steps are taken to suspend violations,” Kvirikashvili said.

“We are in a challenging situation now. Despite the fact we are facing conflicts on our own soil, there is no OSCE presence in Georgia, and this situation is unacceptable. All this inactivity also led to uncontrolled growth of armaments in the South Caucasus,” the PM said.