Latvian official: Migration problem deters EU from making unanimous decision on visa liberalisation

Latvian Ambassador to the EU Sanita Pavluta-Deslandes spoke with Georgia’s Public Broadcaster in an exclusive interview. Photo from, 05 Jun 2016 - 13:36, Tbilisi,Georgia

We all agree that Georgia is the only country in the visa liberalisation waiting list that has fulfilled all the requirements.

These words were spoken by Latvian Ambassador to the EU Sanita Pavluta-Deslandes, who participated in a Brussels meeting were Georgia's visa liberalisation process was in focus earlier this week.

In an exclusive interview with Georgia’s Public Broadcaster, the Latvian diplomat said the only reason why consensus couldn’t yet be reached regarding Georgia’s visa liberalisation was because of the illegal migration problem several European states currently faced.

"There is a general agreement in the organisation that nobody opposes to and it’s that Georgia has fulfilled all of the requirements,” Pavluta-Deslandes said.

"There also is a positive report that the Commission has prepared for Georgia and it was the first step in the visa liberalisation process.”
"The matter is that the discussion subject, visa-free travel, is a very sensitive topic in some European countries because of public opinion. People in some EU states are very concerned regarding increasing migration flows from other countries to the EU.”

The Latvian diplomat noted some member states had difficulties with public opinion inside the country and the issue was becoming even more sensitive since the elections were approaching in some of those countries.

She added she was confident that Georgia would eventually receive visa-free travel but all EU states must agree on this and this could take time.

"The Baltic States are your friends. We constantly explain to other member states that Georgia has prepared its homework so we should now make a fair decision and let it travel to the EU visa-free,” the Latvian Ambassador said.
"I don’t know when exactly this is going to happen. Normally, the country that holds EU presidency makes a schedule.”

She said during discussions the context of other countries was also considered but everyone agreed that Georgia was the only candidate that met all the requirements.

Yesterday Georgia’s Deputy Foreign Minister David Zalkaliani said it would be fair if all countries vying for EU visa liberalisation would be considered separately and decisions for each country would be made individually.