Tuesday, 28 February 2017 10:36
Prime Minister of Georgia, Giorgi Kvirikashvili:
Greetings, Mr. EU Commissioner! Greetings, esteemed ambassadors!
Representatives of the Government and Parliament, citizens of Georgia, it is with great pleasure and joy that I congratulate you on this day!
We are excited that today the Council of the European Union adopted the final regulatory amendment introducing visa-free travel for Georgia's citizens. This is the final step in the decision-making process. I congratulate every Georgian citizen on this very important decision. Notably, all three EU institutions have given their ultimate consent to visa liberalization for Georgia. The revised regulation will be signed on March 1 and published in the official journal of the EU a few days later. Twenty days after the publication, Georgian citizens will be able to enjoy short-term visa-free travel in the EU/Schengen Area.
It is symbolic that our friend, EU Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship Dimitris Avramopoulos is here in Georgia on this important day, to share this success with us.
I would like to thank Mr. Avramopoulos for his personal efforts in the process of Georgia-EU visa liberalization. We also appreciate unanimous support from the EU member states and the European Parliament.
Introduction of visa waiver is an important step on the path to Georgia's European integration, drawing Georgia ever closer to Europe. This outcome bears witness to two things: 1) The EU's due recognition of the Georgian Government's efforts seeking to build democratic institutions, also confirming that Georgia-EU partnership is reliable and solid. In addition, this achievement is an additional stimulus for the Georgian Government to continue its legislative and institutional reforms. 2) Even more importantly, this result proves that the European Union does come through with its promises. Today, the European spirit is stronger in Georgia than anywhere else. The European idea triumphs in Georgia as nowhere else. The importance of a unified Europe and its common foreign, security and economic policies is embraced in Georgia stronger than anywhere else. My fellow compatriots, I congratulate you on this day! I also congratulate Europe because Georgia, as an integral part of European civilization, has drawn even closer today to its European family.
Visa-free access to the European Union will bring tangible, concrete benefits to the citizens of Georgia. Visa-free travel to the EU member states will promote closer tourism, educational, cultural, and business relations between our societies, also contributing to the introduction and advancement of European values and ideas in Georgia.
It is important, that all the benefits of visa-free travel will be available to our citizens in the occupied territories.
The Georgian Government is fully aware of the responsibility accompanying the launch of visa-free travel. We are implementing a set of preventive measures to ensure against possible risks, including a far-reaching large-scale awareness campaign about the rules of visa-free travel.
We expect every Georgian citizen to demonstrate exceptional responsibility in fulfilling their duties and scrupulously observing the terms of travel.
The reforms implemented under visa liberalization are integral parts of the Georgian Government's agenda. Therefore, our efforts in this direction continue, making up a continuous and sustainable process in which we always enjoy strong support from the EU.
Once again, I would like to express my immense gratitude to every member of my team for their enormous efforts. I am grateful to our friend, EU Commissioner Avramopoulos, for this crucially important visit. I also thank EU Ambassador to Georgia Janos Herman for his great support throughout this process. I am thankful to the ambassadors of our friends, the EU member states, for their work in Georgia, for their assistance to the Government of Georgia in achieving this huge success.
Thank you very much.
I congratulate you on this day!