PM Kvirikashvili: Europe shouldn’t let Georgia’s visa liberalisation process hamper

  • Giorgi Kvirikashvili, Prime Minister of Georgia.Photo by RL/RFE, 21 Feb 2016 - 14:40, Tbilisi,Georgia

Any failure in Georgia’s visa liberalisation process will encourage those that oppose Georgia’s European integration, says Georgia’s Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili.

Kvirikashvili spoke about his country’s European aspirations in an interview with the Georgian Service of the Radio Liberty/Radio Free Europe.

"We are not moving towards Europe but we are Europe,” he said.

Kvirikashvili said historically Georgia had always been a representative of the European culture in the region and the country needed to convince its partners that Georgia was still a part of Europe today.

The Prime Minister said Georgia did its best to achieve visa liberalisation with the European Union (EU).

"Any failure in this direction will directly fuel those forces that are against Georgia’s European integration,” Kvirikashvili said, adding this was why he asked Georgia’s European partners to neutralise all skeptical attitudes, if any, regarding Georgia’s visa-free travel to EU.

In the same interview Kvirikashvili spoke about Russia-Georgia relations. He said: "We should try our best not to send confrontational messages to Russia and to use all opportunities for dialogue.”

"We ruled out hateful and derogatory rhetoric which we used to have towards Russia and which did not bring any positive results,” Kvirikashvili said.

He stressed the current positive changes between the two countries in tourism and economic relations but noted Georgia and Russia couldn’t have a positive political dynamic as long as Russia continued to occupy parts of Georgia.

Kvirikashvili said this was a "fundamental issue” and Georgia could not normalise political relations with Russia at the expense of its territorial integrity.

The Prime Minister stressed this was an issue where Georgia would not compromise.