Linkevičius: Delaying the decision on a visa-free regime to Georgian citizens has its price

On 20 June, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Lithuania Linas Linkevičius took part in the EU’s Foreign Affairs Council meeting in Luxembourg. The Council discussed the future integrated EU policy for the Arctic, the EU comprehensive approach to security and development in the Sahel region, the ongoing political crisis in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, the Middle East peace process, and visa liberalisation in the context of EU-Georgia relations.

After the Justice and Home Affairs Council of 10 June failed to make a decision on the visa-free regime to Georgian citizens, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia requested to further discuss this matter at the Foreign Affairs Council. On 9 June, at the initiative of Lithuania, Foreign and Interior Ministers of Romania, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Bulgaria sent a joint letter to the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands and the Dutch Minister for Migration, requesting to grant visa-free travel to Georgian citizens as soon as possible.

During the discussion at the Foreign Affairs Council, the Foreign Ministers discussed the political importance of visa liberalisation for Georgian citizens and the potential negative effect of further delaying the decision. Linkevičius stressed that delaying to make the decision on visa liberalisation to Georgians had its price – firstly, changed dynamics in domestic politics ahead of the Georgian parliamentary election in October; secondly, when the EU’s  actions were at odds with its words, the EU was losing credibility; thirdly, as the EU motivated its Eastern partners to implement, the EU based its policy in the region on the more-for-more principle, so a delay in fulfilling obligations reduced the EU’s role as a catalyst for reform.


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