Reuters: “Georgia hopes for visa-free travel to EU despite German objections”

Georgia signed its Association Agreement with the European Union on June 27, 2014., Jun 06, 2016, Tbilisi, Georgia

International news agency Reuters has penned an article about Georgia’s visa liberalisation prospects with the European Union (EU), which states Georgia still hopes for visa-free travel to the Schengen zone despite last-minute objection of Germany. 

Talks were underway within EU major players on Friday about Georgia’s visa liberalisation efforts however with ongoing struggles to control immigration, the 28-nation EU failed to agree for the second week running on easier travel requirements for Georgia’s three million residents.

The international news agency spoke to Georgia’s EU Ambassador Natalie Sabanadze, who said Georgia remained hopeful about the successful completion of Georgia’s visa liberalisation efforts, as all criteria had been met, and now the country was waiting for a political decision from the EU. 

The article’s author Gabriela Baczynska said it seemed Georgia was being held hostage to build leverage in the more complicated visa liberalisation talks with Turkey and Ukraine, but Sabanadze seemed hopeful for a positive outcome for Georgia despite the complications regarding other countries’ visa liberalisation efforts.

It’s a little bit childish to say that we are hostage of the political circumstances, because these are the ones that dictate decisions and we understand this,” she said.

But I do say that we feel that we have fulfilled our part of the bargain and now it’s up to the EU to deliver … The question now becomes political, it’s a matter of taking a political decision.”

Reuters stressed Georgia met "all the criteria for the EU visa waiver”, but quoted foreign diplomats as saying that Germany led the last-minute opposition with backing from France and Belgium. 

The news agency quoted other diplomats as saying that Germany may be reluctant "to let Georgia through before Ukraine”, where conflict was still simmering two years after Russia annexed Crimea from Kiev.

The diplomats, who were not identified in the story, told Reuters moving ahead with Georgia but leaving Ukraine behind "would weaken the standing in Kiev of the pro-western president Petro Poroshenko”.

Others however pointed to Georgia's Parliamentary Elections in October this year, saying a delay in visa liberalisation would be damaging to Tbilisi.

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