Germany Supports Georgia’s Visa Liberalisation Policy

Georgia’s efforts to achieve visa free travel to European Union (EU) states appears to be resonating with EU leaders, particularly Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel.

The German official has voiced her support for Georgia’s EU visa free travel ambitions after earlier being sceptical about Georgia’s plans at an official meeting with Georgia’s Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili earlier today in Riga at the Eastern Partnership (EaP) Summit.

The press office of Georgia’s Prime Minister released a statement today claiming Merkel supported Georgia’s visa liberalisation process. At the meeting, Garibashvili emphasised the country’s achievements and reforms, and implementation of the visa liberalisation process. At the same time the Georgian PM highlighted the Germany-Georgia partnership and the activities that had been carried out in the past two years to deepen bilateral relations.

Yesterday a reception was held for the heads of delegations attending the Riga EaP Summit, where officials discussed the declaration text that outlined the EU’s future relationship with EaP countries. Here Garibashvili was seated between Merkel and French President Francois Hollande.

Some commentators have since claimed it was not a coincidence Garibashvili was seated between these two high officials, as both appeared to be sceptical of Georgia’s visa free travel aspirations. Meanwhile, the leaders of several EU countries confirmed to Garibashvili yesterday that “a political decision has already been made” with regard to Georgia’s visa liberalisation and only technical procedures remained to be completed.

Georgia’s Foreign Minister Tamar Beruchashvili, who is accompanying PM Garibashvili to Riga, said December 2015 was when Georgia wanted all technical procedures completed and for Georgian citizens to be granted visa free travel to the Schengen zoneVisa liberalisation dialogue between Georgia and the EU launched on June 4, 2012. The Visa Liberalisation Action Plan (VLAP) was handed over to the Government of Georgia on February 25, 2013.

Garibashvili stressed this process should have started in 2010 when Moldova did. “Moldova has already achieved visa liberalisation because they began the process earlier [than us]. It is interesting why the previous government did not do it,” said Garibashvili. “Everyone says a political decision has already been made about Georgia’s visa liberalisation; only technical procedures are left to be completed. We hope the procedures will be completed by the end of the year and Georgians will be able to enjoy visa free travel to Europe,” Garibashvili said.

As well as discussing Georgia’s EU visa free regime, EU leaders were also preparing similar declarations for Ukraine and Moldova. Moldova was awarded visa free travel to the Schengen zone in 2014. Earlier, when talking about the Eastern Partnership, EU officials previously said Georgia was the front-runner of all six EaP countries.


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