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Georgia’s MFA does not confirm visa-liberalization delay

By Tea Mariamidze
Thursday, August 25
Georgia’s Foreign Minister, Mikheil Janelidze, responded to a statement of Rikard Jozwiak, Radio Free Europe’s Brussels Reporter, who said on August 23 that the European Union (EU) will likely delay the visa-free regime for Georgia and Ukraine until January 1 2017.

"The EU diplomats are awaiting the final decisions of European Parliament and EU Council concerning visa-free travel for Ukraine and Georgia in October 2016 with visa free travel on 1 January, 2017," Jozwiak wrote on his Twitter account.

According to Janelidze, speculation on dates is not acceptable. He underlined that the government is working hard on the issue and the opinions of certain journalists may be totally different from the opinions of politicians.

The Minister said that the European Parliament Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE) will vote for Georgia’s issue in the beginning of September, after which further procedures will be launched, which are defined by the European system and regulations.

“All high-level politicians say that Georgia deserves visa-liberalization due to the reforms implemented in the country. The issue depends only on procedures,” Janelidze said and hoped that the process will be completed positively.

The Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the EU member states unanimously backed Georgia’s visa liberalization at a session held in Luxembourg on June 20.

Moreover, Latvia’s Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkevics stated in late June that early autumn is the latest time when Georgia can be granted a visa-free regime with Europe based on the decision of the Foreign Ministers of the EU member states.

Once the European Parliament’s Committee of Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE) 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.