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Foreign Diplomats support Georgia-EU visa liberalization

By Tea Mariamidze
Tuesday, September 6
European Union (EU) Enlargement Commissioner Johannes Hahn is sure that the European Parliament and all EU countries will make a positive decision on Georgia’s visa-liberalization this year.

The information was released by Radio Liberty/Radio Free Europe (RFE/RL) on September 3. After the meeting of the EU Foreign Ministers in Bratislava, Slovakia, Hahn told RFE/RL that among the member states there was a clear indication and by many of the member states a clear expectation that Georgia and Ukraine should be granted visa-liberalization.

“EU sources that RFE/RL has spoken to believe that this will happen with both countries in October or November and that citizens will be able to travel to the EU's Schengen zone without visas later this winter,” the article reads.

According to Radio Liberty/Radio Free Europe, in the summer Germany blocked a decision to grant Georgia visa liberalization, claiming that Berlin feared a spike of crimes committed by Georgians in Germany. However, the article says that Hahn believes EU mechanism suspending visas in case of problems “should remove all concerns.”

Moreover, Georgia’s Foreign Minister, Mikheil Janelidze received positive messages over visa-free regime while meeting EU foreign ministers in Bratislava. He met the Foreign Ministers of France, the Netherlands, Slovakia and Lithuania.

Slovakia’s Foreign Minister Miroslav Lajcak expressed his support to Georgia’s integration with EU and Euro-Atlantic structures and expressed hope that Georgia’s visa-liberalization process would be positively completed soon.

Dutch FM Albert Koenders also expressed his readiness to support granting visa-free regime to Georgia.

According to Georgia’s Foreign Ministry, French Foreign Minister, Jean-Marc Ayrault reiterated France’s firm support to Georgia’s visa-liberalization and noted that Georgia is the leader of the Eastern Partnership Countries.

Lithuanian foreign minister Linas Linkevicius said Lithuania is interested in the process of visa-liberalization being executed soon, especially in the conditions when Georgia fulfilled all obligations undertaken within Visa Liberalization Action Plan (VLAP).

Vano Chkhikvadze, European Integration Program Manager of a non-governmental organization (NGO) Open Society-Georgia Foundation (OSGF) thinks that the visa-liberalization process depends on the changes to the suspension mechanism.

“It is hard to say when we will be able to move freely within the Schengen area without visas. This decision is directly related to the visa suspension mechanisms from the EU,” said Chkhikvadze.

Furthermore, today the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE) of the European Parliament will vote on a proposal on EU visa waiver for Georgia and Kosovo. If approved by the LIBE committee, which is responsible for the issue, the proposal will then be voted in the European Parliament plenary session.