Georgia sees the European Union (EU) visa liberalisation as not only a foreign policy success but also an opportunity for the country’s unification.
Georgian authorities believed now that the country has won EU recognition and Georgian citizens will soon be able to travel to Europe visa-free, more people from Georgia’s Russian-occupied regions will ask for a Georgian passport.
"This is the path to Georgia’s unification. Only by building a modern European state can we be attractive to our Abkhazian and Ossetian brothers and sisters,” Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili said while commenting on yesterday’s positive visa liberalisation progress report.
"A day will come when they will also enjoy the benefits of European integration.”
Georgian officials have multiple times said that once Georgia was granted a visa-free regime, those living in Georgia’s breakaway regions would also enjoy this opportunity if they asked for a Georgian biometric passport.
State Minister for European and Euro-Atlantic Integration David Bakradze even recalled the Moldova case and said when the EU let Moldova citizens enter the EU visa-free, tens of thousands of people from the separatist region of Trans-Dniester asked to be given Moldova passports.
Georgia hoped the same for its conflict regions –Abkhazia and Tskhinvali (South Ossetia). Authorities offered to enjoy the benefits of the EU integration to the population of these two regions too.
Now it was up to Abkhazians and Ossetians whether or not they would like to take a Georgian passport and enjoy free entry to Europe.
If so, with its EU visa liberalisation Georgia will ease its domestic tension as well. This was another reason why the country attached so much importance to yesterday’s positive progress report from the European Commission.