EU Ambassador: “You’re waiting, we’re working”
By Messenger Staff
Wednesday, January 11EU Ambassador to Georgia Janos Herman says EU institutions are working for a successful end to Georgia’s visa liberalisation process in the EU’s passport-free Schengen zone.
“The process continues. The EU institutions will resume working to end the process; we are now at the final stage. Therefore, as you have said, you are waiting and as for us, we are working for the process to be finished,” Herman said.
Georgian and European officials said the final vote on Georgia’s visa liberalisation would take place on January 2017 at the European Parliament.
European Parliamentarian Andrejs Mamikins stated that Georgians would be able to travel without a visa to the EU from the end of April 2017.
The EU-Georgia visa liberalisation process started in 2012. By the end of 2015, the European Commission had concluded that Georgia had fulfilled all the necessary obligations to obtain a visa waiver.
Once Georgia obtains visa liberalisation, its citizens will be able to enter the EU's Schengen Zone without a visa for 90 days in any 180 day period, provided they hold a biometric passport.
Since 2012, Georgia has carried out a range of reforms to draw closer to European standards.
The country has been continually praised for its successes, but the act of granting visa-free travel to Georgia has been dragged out to the extent that many Georgians have lost faith in the West’s promises.
The successful completion of the process is very important, especially in the current situation when public unhappiness with the Government’s economic policy is growing.
Granting visa-free travel to Georgia will assure Georgians that they can receive practical benefits through the Georgia-EU partnership and also give a reason to the Government of Georgia to claim they have delivered on their own promises.
Granting visa-free travel to Georgia can for some time overshadow the recent rough devaluation of the national currency against the dollar, as well as increased prices on oil and other products.
However, visa liberalisation will not remove the major problems facing the country, and in short and long term perspectives the Government will have to ensure certain tangible economic changes to avoid mass protests and unrest.