EP President Martin Schulz: Georgia faces no extra conditions for visa waiver

Georgian Parliament Speaker David Usupashvili (L), European Parliament President Martin Schulz meet in Brussels on Wednesday. Photo by Georgian Parliament's press office.
Agenda.ge, 27 Apr 2016 - 16:39, Tbilisi,Georgia

Georgia is the European Union’s (EU) key ally in the region, says European Parliament (EP) President Martin Schulz.

The EP high official spoke highly of Georgia and of its EU visa-free aspirations while meeting Georgia’s Parliament Speaker David Usupashvili in Brussels, Belgium today.

The main topic discussed between the two high officials was Georgia’s visa liberalisation. The matter was brought up in the EP earlier this week and was currently being discussed by its 700 members.

Schulz voiced the message that Georgia has been waiting for; he said no additional requests would be imposed on Georgia after it fulfilled all obligations required for a visa-free regime to the EU.

"I was very happy to discuss [visa liberalisation] and to exchange with my colleague, the Speaker of [Georgia’s] Parliament about the ongoing process with one key element, there are no further requests of the European Union,” Schulz said at the press conference following the meeting.

"I expressed once more the entire support of the European Parliament for the democratic and the economic sustainable development of the country as a strong association partner of the European Union and we discussed this in this frame of the ongoing process of visa liberalisation.”

Schulz said there was a simple principle: if a country met all criteria envisaged in its Visa Liberalisation Action Plan (VLAP), it would be granted visa-free travel. Earlier the EU said Georgia had met all the criteria.

"When we spoke about visa liberalisation I was glad to hear once again that there is no additional conditions and there had been no additional issues and pre-conditions requested from Georgia in this process,” Usupashvili said at the same press conference.

Meanwhile the sides also discussed the recent political situation in Georgia.

"There is more political competition in the country of ideas of how to run and rule the country and this is an encouraging development because it also contributes to reducing tensions and focuses on programmatic questions of the future of the country,” Schulz said.

"We are on the right track,” Usupashvili noted.
"We have a lot of things to do; a lot of reforms in the judiciary, making our country more friendly for investors and many other things and that is why we want to be closer to the European Union and to have constant debate and discussion on these and other issues,” he said.

At the press conference it was also announced Schulz would visit Tbilisi in the "nearest months”.

The EP’s Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE) held its first hearing on Georgia’s visa liberalisation on April 25. The committee positively assessed how Georgia had implemented its VLAP process and asked the EP to offer Georgia its long-awaited visa-free travel regime to the Schengen area.

The removal of a visa for Georgian citizens will soon be put forward at an upcoming EP plenary session for voting. The date of the vote has not been announced.

Today Schulz said there were 700 members within the EP so it was difficult to predict what each one would decide but he stressed the legal procedure was as the following: If Georgia met the criteria, it would get a visa waiver.