Georgian citizens will be able to enter the Schengen area without a visa for short stays, under a new law passed by Parliament on Thursday.
The legislation still needs to be formally approved by the Council and will only enter into force once the visa suspension mechanism, which allows the temporary reintroduction of visas in the event of migration surges or risks to public security, is in place.
Parliament´s rapporteur for the proposal, Mariya Gabriel (EPP, BG), acknowledged the “broad and complex reforms” carried out by Georgia in order to get the visa waiver and thanked the country's authorities and citizens for their consistency and patience. She also congratulated them on the strength of their democratic conviction and noted that the visa exemption brings the country closer to the EU.
Under the visa exemption, endorsed in plenary by 553 votes to 66, with 28 abstentions, Georgians who hold a biometric passport will have the right to enter the EU visa-free for 90 days in any 180-day period, for business, tourist or family purposes, but not to work.
Tbilisi has complied with all the benchmarks of its visa liberalisation plan, the text notes, underlining that “continuous fulfilment by Georgia of such criteria, especially on the fight against organised crime, will be duly monitored by the Commission”.
The visa waivers apply to the Schengen area, which includes 22 EU member states (all except Ireland, the UK, Croatia, Cyprus, Romania and Bulgaria), plus Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland.
The legal change transferring Georgia from the list of countries whose nationals need a visa to enter the EU (the “negative” list) to the list of countries exempted from this requirement (the “positive” list) will have now to be approved by the Council of Ministers. Following its formal signature, the text will be published in the EU Official Journal.
The visa waiver for Georgia will enter into force on the same date as the revised visa suspension mechanism, approved by Parliament on 15 December but still pending finalisation of the official translation of the legal texts.
Jean-Marc Ayrault congratulated Mikheil Janelidze on the democratic conduction of elections and underlined the country’s significant progress in carrying out reforms and democratic development.
The two Ministers welcomed the decision to open a permanent representation of the French Development Agency in Tbilisi in January 2017 that will promote the development of co-operation between the two countries in different spheres, including, sharing France’s experience in the spheres of tourism, infrastructure and sectoral development. Speaking about bilateral relations, Jean-Marc Ayrault and Mikheil Janelidze focused on successful co-operation in the spheres of defence and security.
Talking points also included the current security environment in the region and the recent development in Georgia’s occupied territories. By the end of the meeting, Mikheil Janelidze invited Jean-Marc Ayrault to pay an official visit to Georgia and welcomed the decision of France and Germany to hold the regional ambassadorial meeting of the two countries in Tbilisi.
What the European Union does, when Georgia delays the visa free regime for Georgia? - This question of asked by his speech by the Hungarian Foreign Minister at Ambassadorial 2016.
He criticized the European Union, which, in his opinion, is not prepared to tackle challenges. The Hungarian foreign minister said his country supports expansion of both the EU and NATO, but not everyone shares this opinion in Brussels.
According to the Ambassador of Georgia to European Union Natalia Sabanadze, if the visa liberalization process of Turkey delays it will not affect Georgia.
According to her, the legislative proposal to delist Turkey and Kosovo from visa needed countries have already entered into consideration but their connection is procedural and not political.
The vote on visa liberalization issue of Georgia will be held in LIBE at September, 5. This information was stated by the State Minister of European and Euro Atlantic Integration of Georgia Davit Bakradze.
According to him, Georgian side has positive expectations and don’t wait for unpleasant surprises. “We can say that Europe has already decided the important political position about visa free regime of Georgia. This is an issue which includes procedural details. The vote will be held in LIBE at September, 5,”-Davit Bakradze 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 in the European Union], but there was a 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,” added Mogherini
The Former Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili hopes that Georgia will receive visa liberalization process until the end of September. According to him, the country was developed by the work of the new government but the citizens of Georgia should not request when they arrive in Europe, why Bidzina Ivanishvili didn’t build same type European country in 3-4 years.
“We have quit effective government. None of arguments Tabula or Rustavi2 can state that the country was more developed in the power of National Movement. A lot of problems we have in the region but Georgia can compete with any developed European country: Spain, Italy, Lithuania… We should be like Swiss in 4 years,”-Bidzina Ivanisvhili said.
European Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations Johannes Hans hopes that Georgia, Ukraine and Kosovo will receive visa liberalization in 2016 year. This statement was made by him in the interview with Radio Liberty.
“This is a time for political decisions, but Ukraine, Georgia and Kosovo had done all the terms,”-Hans said. As he said, the Western countries should make joint decision for these three countries.