2 Feb 2017 - 18:12
Agenda.ge asked Mariya Gabriel, a Member of the European Parliament (EP) and a rapporteur on Georgia’s visa liberalization who had consistently urged her colleagues to vote in Georgia’s favor, to write a blog on her impressions about this historic decision.
She kindly agreed to write this blog exclusively for our readers. Gabriel is among those 553 MEP who voted in favor of visa-free travel for Georgian citizens to the Schengen Area.
We want to be surrounded by a ring of friends
We have come a long way before the final vote on visa waiver for Georgian citizens in the European Parliament today.
The successful finalisation of the visa liberalisation for Georgia is a recognition for what the Georgian authorities and citizens have achieved.
Granting the visa-free travel for Georgians marks a significant milestone for the relations between Georgia and the EU.
As European Parliament’s chief negotiator on the visa waiver for Georgia, I have always called for compliance with the main principle of our common visa policy. As soon as all criteria are fulfilled, the visa requirement should be lifted.
The simultaneous entry into force of the revised suspension mechanism and visa liberalisation represents the ultimate success of our efforts and strong commitment to deliver in a timely manner on the visa waiver for Georgians.
Georgia has not only fulfilled all requirements set by the EU on its way for visa liberalisation but also continued building on what has been achieved. In this context, the EU common visa policy has proven to be an effective instrument of foreign policy in the political dialogue with our partners.
The visa liberalisation process has contributed to achieving a significant progress in advancing far-reaching and complex reforms in the country.
Georgia is strategic partner for the EU in the framework of the European Neighbourhood Policy and in particular of the Eastern Partnership, reinforcing our common security. We want to be surrounded by a ring of friends.
Furthermore, by lifting visa requirements for Georgia, we are sending strong and positive message towards Georgian citizens.
The introduction of visa-free regime is of a significant importance not only for the Georgians, as well as for the European citizens. We should not forget that visa liberalisation for Georgia will contribute to deepen people-to-people contacts and will enhance economic and political cooperation. This will confirm the EU position as an important factor in the region.
Last but not least, I would like to thank Georgian authorities and citizens for their consistency, patience and strong commitment to shared democratic values.