TBILISI, DFWatch–Georgian government officials remain optimistic about visa liberalization with the EU, while EU officials say Georgia is not yet ready for visa free rules.
The Eastern Partnership Summit in Riga opened yesterday, and even though there were hopes earlier, Angela Merkel, German Chancellor was one of the first to say that Georgia and Ukraine do not currently fulfill the necessary requirements for visa free rules with Europe.
Afterwards Johannes Hahn, Commissioner for European Neighborhood Policy, reaffirmed that Georgia and Ukraine need to fulfil several conditions in order to get a positive assessment for visa liberalization.
Foreign Minister Tamar Beruchashvili, however, said that Georgia’s efforts to get visa liberalization were recognized and now Georgia is ‘in the final finishing stage.’ She is confident that only one more step is necessary for Georgia to get the statement of final approvement about Georgian citizens to travel to Europe without a visa.
Beruchashvili says she expects that in the Riga Summit declaration there will be strictly defined terms about technical requirements that need to be fulfilled.
Right before the beginning of the summit, the European People’s Party called for EU leaders to propose a specific date for lifting visa requirements for Georgia and Ukraine at this summit, as they believe visa free regime with those two states will bring tangible benefits to people.
“The European Commission has presented a report that Ukraine and Georgia have put much effort into this issue, but not enough effort so as the situation was improved as a whole,” Merkel said on Thursday.
Georgia launched a dialogue with the EU about visa liberalization in June 2012. In February, 2013, the country received an action plan for steps to go through before visa liberalization. There are 15 points which Georgia has to fulfill, divided into two phases. The first phase was about putting legislation in order and in line with EU standards, which Georgia has already fulfilled. The second phase is about implementation of those laws and reforms.
In the beginning of May, the European Commission published a report about fulfillment of those 15 points. The report said that Georgia has fully completed seven points, while eight still remain to be fulfilled.
Read the report here: