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European officials support Georgia’s visa liberalization

By Tea Mariamidze
Friday, July 8
The European Parliament’s Committee on Foreign Affairs (AFET) voted in favour of granting visa-free regime to Georgia on July 7.

According to the European Parliament, during the vote 53 MPs voted in favor of Georgia, 5 were against and 3 refrained from voting.

The members of the AFET back Georgia’s visa-liberalization in their statement published in the official web page of the European Parliament.

According to the statement, European Parliament should impose visa-free travel for the citizens of Kosovo, Georgia and Ukraine to the Schengen area because these countries have achieved significant progress in the process of implementation of necessary conditions.

“Visa-liberalization is an important tool of the EU’s foreign and security policy for Eastern Partnership and western Balkan countries,” the statement reads.

Rapporteur on Georgia Andrejs Mamikins said that Georgia should be granted visa-free regime as it has done a lot of work.

"The establishment of visa-free regime between the EU and Georgia will be a very important signal to the citizens of Georgia. The Government of Georgia and Georgian society have done a lot of work and they should see the results now,” stated Mamikins.

AFET has conducted voting on granting a visa-free regime to Georgia, Ukraine and Kosovo. The voting results will be sent to the Committee of Equality and Justice (LIBE), which is the leading committee in terms of visa liberalization.

According to the press release published by the European Parliament, the voting in LIBE over the establishment of visa liberalization for Georgia is scheduled after the summer parliamentary recess.

Georgia's State Minister of European and Euro-Atlantic Integration, Davit Bakradze is very positive about Georgia’s visa-liberalization process.

“It is clear that the decision about visa-liberalization is already made. The issue needs to pass appropriate procedures, which is happening very fast in the corresponding structures,” claimed Bakradze.

Moreover, in December 2015, the European Commission released a positive report about Georgia and stressed that the country had fulfilled all the obligations undertaken within the Georgia-EU Visa Liberalization Action Plan (VLAP).

Before visa-liberalization goes into effect, it also requires approval from the council of EU home affairs and justice ministers, which earlier failed to agree on the issue in June.