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Dates for Georgia-EU visa free travel still unclear

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Monday, December 5
Last week, the 3rd Georgia-EU Association Council meeting was held in Brussels, Belgium, the first such meeting after the Georgia-EU Association Agreement came into full play this year.

It was also the first official foreign visit by the new Government of Georgia after the October Parliamentary Elections.

The meeting discussed all Georgia-EU issues, starting from the Georgia-EU visa liberalisation prospects to Georgia’s territorial problems.

The Association Council stressed the importance of a “prompt finalisation of the decision making process” required to exempt Georgian citizens holding biometric passports from visa requirements within the EU Schengen area.

The High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Federica Mogherini, who chaired the meeting, stated after the Council gathering that she was “personally looking forward to Georgia-EU visa liberalisation”, as the country fulfilled all its obligations.

She stressed the process had dragged on due to discussions on the Suspension Mechanism within the EU, as only after all EU member states agreed on special rules over visa-free travel for certain countries - Georgia amongst them - could visa liberalisation be granted.

Mogherini stated she could not name an exact date when Georgia will gain visa liberalisation.

The Association Council welcomed the progress made by Georgia in the implementation of comprehensive reforms in the justice sector. Both sides agreed on the need for Georgia to consolidate the progress achieved.

The EU underlined its commitment to continue assisting Georgia in its efforts to reform the judiciary and safeguard the rule of law.

Both Georgia and the EU welcomed the initial benefits of the economic integration through the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement (DCFTA) implementation.

The EU underlined the importance of sound macroeconomic policies in this respect, and welcomed the renewed momentum for Georgia to reach an agreement with the IMF.

The EU reiterated its firm support for the territorial integrity of Georgia within its internationally recognised borders, as well as its firm commitment to peace, stability and conflict resolution in Georgia.

“To this end, the EU is committed to using all instruments at its disposal through a comprehensive approach, including its policy of non-recognition and engagement in Georgia,” EU official press release said.

Experts say that as the discussion of the Suspension Mechanism would be launched in January next year, granting visa liberalisation to Georgia may be postponed for 6-7 months.

The EU-Georgia Council is the highest formal body established under the EU-Georgia Association Agreement to supervise the implementation of the Agreement and to discuss issues of mutual interest.