Visa free travel for Georgian citizens to the European Union (EU) is finally in sight after an agreement between the Council of Europe and the European Parliament over the suspension mechanism was reached.
European Parliament member Kati Piri tweeted yesterday that the "EU keeps its promise when [a] country delivers”.
Celebrations in Tbilisi that finally visa free travel for Georgians is in sight. Important that EU keeps its promise when country delivers! pic.twitter.com/SwMDEmezdG— Kati Piri (@KatiPiri) December 7, 2016
The agreement was reached yesterday however introduction of visa free travel still awaits formal approval.
Georgians hope the formal decisions will swiftly be granted this month, allowing citizens to start travelling to EU countries without a visa starting next year.
European Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations Johannes Hahn also urged the EU Council and European Parliament to a make decision about Georgia's visa waiver "as soon as possible”.
In November the EU announced it had decided to grant visa-free travel rights to Georgia and Ukraine after both countries delivered on a set of reform measures.
But concerns soon mounted that the EU, already shaken by the Syrian migrant crisis, was dragging its feet. One obvious concern was that more migrant workers from Ukraine, a country of more than 40 million and Georgia with some four million citizens, could flood into EU member countries in search of jobs and higher living standards.
Officials announced countries within the EU first needed to agree on and introduce an emergency suspension mechanism.
But the President of the European Council Donald Tusk encouraged decision makers to deliver on the long-promised visa-free regimes for both Ukraine and Georgia.
Earlier this week he sent a letter to European Parliament President Martin Schulz saying "we simply cannot allow those who have put their trust in us in the end to become the victims of our internal disputes”.
This is what Tusk posted on his Twitter account today:
Almost there. Visa suspension mechanism dispute over. Now the final stretch towards visa free travel for Ukraine and Georgia.— Donald Tusk (@eucopresident) December 8, 2016
Georgia's Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili went to Twitter to thank the EU.
Meanwhile as MEP Kati Piri said, the EU has kept its promise and now Georgian citizens are one step closer to travelling visa free to EU.
She said after additional consultations and discussions within European Parliament, the agreement on the suspension mechanism may be voted at European Parliament’s plenary session next week.