All EU countries unanimously back Georgia’s visa liberalisation

Federica Mogherini: “Georgia has done an incredibly good work that deserves to be recognised as soon as possible.” Photo by the EU’s press office, 21 Jun 2016 - 12:09, Tbilisi,Georgia

All 28 member states of the European Union (EU) agree Georgia has done "incredibly good work” to implement all obligations for visa-free travel and these efforts deserve to be recognised "as soon as possible”.

These words were spoken by the EU’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini in Luxembourg last night.

Mogherini spoke following a meeting of the Foreign Affairs Council, where EU Foreign Ministers discussed visa liberalisation for citizens of Georgia.

"[…] it was clear from all member states that there is no doubt that Georgia fulfilled all the benchmarks,” Mogherini said.

"Obviously, this is now in the hands of the Dutch Presidency to put it on the agenda of one of the upcoming COREPERs [Committee of Permanent Representatives], but there was recognition from all member states on the fact that Georgia has done an incredibly good work and that deserves to be recognised as soon as possible.”

The subject of visa liberalisation for Georgian citizens was included in yesterday’s political discussion of the Council following a joint initiative from the ministers of the interior and foreign affairs of the Baltic States Bulgaria and Romania.

Following the discussion, Lithuanian Foreign Minister Linas Linkevicius told Georgian journalists this was the "most positive meeting” ever held about Georgia’s visa liberalisation.

"Georgia will receive a visa liberalisation. None of the member states has expressed an opposite opinion,” he said.

The Lithuanian top diplomat said he assumed the decision would be made at the European Council and European Parliament at the same time, and he believed this would happen no later than "early fall”.

Latvia’s Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkevics emphasised Georgia had fulfilled the requirements for visa-free travel to the EU.

"Latvia is certain that the suspension mechanism approved and the preparedness expressed by Georgian law enforcement authorities for cooperation with the EU is sufficient grounds for taking a decision on a visa–free regime for Georgian nationals,” he said.

"The delay on a decision to allow visa-free travel could reduce Georgia’s resilience to pressures from countries which have a negative attitude towards the Eastern Partnership,” stressed the Minister.

Talking with the Georgian press, Rinkevics said there were countries that had concerns regarding security but even they had recognised the progress achieved by Georgia and believed the country deserved visa liberalisation to the EU.

The EU officials said there were no specific deadlines but they believed the final decision would be made around early September.