European Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations, Johannes Hahn, said on January 15 in Tbilisi he hopes there “will be a very positive outcome” when the EU makes assessment of implementation of second phase of Georgia’s visa liberalization action plan in March.
Hahn, who is visiting Georgia on January 15-16, said after meeting with the Georgian Foreign Minister Tamar Beruchashvili that visa liberalization was among the issues discussed.
“We have also discussed some other issues, because in parallel it’s important to address some of the concerns of the member states in the European Union linked to this issue [of visa liberalization], for instance when it comes to organized crime; this is to be addressed in order to resolve all the problems, which might be still there in order to get the approval from our member states,” Commissioner Hahn said.
Speaking after meeting with the European Commissioner, Georgian PM Irakli Garibashvili said that the Georgian government is preparing for the Eastern Partnership summit in Riga in late May to make Georgia an example of success. He also said that “successful completion” of all the technical works to meet visa liberalization criteria by the Riga summit is one of the main priorities of the government; he also expressed hope that the European Commission will give positive recommendation in favor of visa-free travel rules with Georgia; he, however, also added that he does not want to jump to conclusions.
In October, 2014 Georgia fulfilled first-phase requirements under the visa liberalisation action plan with the EU, which paved the way for the launch of the second phase. The first phase benchmarks included the overall policy framework, involving adoption of relevant legislation, and the second phase benchmarks involve putting into practice effective and sustainable implementation of these relevant measures and legislation
During his visit, Commissioner Hahn will also meet President Giorgi Margvelashvili, Parliament speaker Davit Usupashvili, as well as opposition and civil society representatives.
Hahn noted that Georgia was the first country in the South Caucasus region he’s visiting in his capacity of the commissioner for neighbourhood and enlargement negotiations, which, he said, was “indicating how strongly the European Union appreciates all the efforts of Georgia to move towards the European Union.”
Also on January 15, Commissioner Hahn and the Georgian PM signed a new three-year EUR 44.5 million program to assist Georgia in the implementation of the deep and comprehensive free trade agreement (DCFTA).
The Georgian PM thanked the EU for its assistance and added: “We expect even more political, financial and technical assistance from the EU.”
“Our European choice is determinant of Georgia’s foreign and internal policy,” the PM said.
PM Garibashvili said that issues related to the regional security were also discussed. In this context he said that “despite of our constructive steps” Russia has not made reciprocal steps and noted Moscow’s treaty on strategic alliance with breakaway Abkhazia.
Commissioner Hahn reiterated EU’s support towards Georgia’s territorial integrity, saying that EU’s position is “crystal clear” over this issue.