Steinmeier: “Question isn’t whether Georgia gets visa-free travel, question is when”

Georgia’s Prime Minister met Germany’s Foreign Minister in Tbilisi this morning. Photo by the Prime Minister’s webpage., 01 Jul 2016 - 13:13, Tbilisi,Georgia

Germany’s Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier is in Georgia to attend the opening ceremony of the annual Parliamentary Assembly of the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE PA), which is taking place in Tbilisi from July 1-5.

Before the opening of the large-scaled event involving more than 700 guests, Steinmeier sat down with Georgia’s Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili and Foreign Minister Mikheil Janelidze.

At this morning’s meetings the German high official agreed Georgia had made "unprecedented efforts” to earn visa liberalisation with the European Union (EU) and he spoke positively of Georgia’s efforts to successfully implement its Visa Liberalisation Action Plan.

He added Georgia’s intentions to gain a visa waiver for the EU’s passport-free Schengen zone would be supported by Europe.

We know well there are huge expectations in Georgia about visa liberalisation. I want to highlight that Georgia has taken huge steps to gain this opportunity and it was a very long process.

I have stated and I will repeat that there is no question whether Georgia will get visa-free travel or not, the question is when this will happen,” Steinmeier said during a press conference with Janelidze after the pair met.

Steinmeier stressed an adoption of a restrictive mechanism for visa liberalisation was essential, which meant imposing restrictions or depriving a country of visa-free movement if the country or its citizens violated certain rules.

The issue is being discussed and I’m waiting for the process to be completed in the coming weeks,” Steinmeier added.

Georgian-German bilateral relations, Georgia’s European integration agenda and current regional situation were discussed by Kvirikashvili and Steinmeier at their meeting today.

The pair both said holding of the OSCE PA session in Tbilisi was one of the most important political events in the history of independent Georgia. Kvirikashvili and Steinmeier said the forum would "significantly empower Georgia’s role and potential on the world’s political map.”

About the October 8 Parliamentary Elections, Kvirikashvili told Steinmeier that Georgia had "seriously improved its pre-election standards” and the country was ready to hold very transparent and fair elections that were monitored by many international observers.

On a different note the two high officials condemned the recent terror attacks in Turkey and stressed the importance of regional stability.

Steinmeir was scheduled to leave Georgia later today.