Georgia is committed to fulfill all the requirements under the visa liberalisation action plan with the EU and expects the European Commission to recommend visa waiver by the time of Eastern Partnership (EaP) summit in Riga in late May, PM Irakli Garibashvili said in Brussels on February 26.
“Process of Georgia’s European and Euro-Atlantic integration is irreversible,” he said after meeting President of the European Council Donald Tusk.
“It is the primary objective of my government to demonstrate to our citizens that the European agenda delivers; so we are committed to the continued effective implementation of the Association Agreement,” the Georgian PM said.
“We are looking forward to the upcoming Riga summit. We are ready to demonstrate substantial progress in the implementation of our European integration agenda and in this context we are committed to fulfill all the benchmarks of the visa liberalisation action plan and [we] expect that the [European] Commission will positively assess the accomplishments of our government and will issue a recommendation on visa waiver for short-term travel by citizens of Georgia,” PM Garibashvili said.
If Georgia’s progress is assessed positively and the European Commission recommends the lifting of visa requirements, it must then be approved by the European Parliament and the EU-member states before it comes into force.
Georgia and the EU launched the visa liberalisation talks in June, 2012 and Visa Liberalisation Action Plan was presented to Georgia in late February, 2013.
The action plan represents a set of detailed requirements that a country should meet in order to be granted short-term visa-free regime in the Schengen area.
On October 29, 2014 the European Commission announced that Georgia met first-phase requirements of its VLAP, paving the way for the launch of the second phase.
The plan addresses broad range of areas related to document security, border management, migration, mobility and asylum, as well as other issues such as the fight against corruption and organized crime, protection of human rights, minorities, and anti-discrimination.
The first phase benchmarks included the overall policy and legal 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.
EU experts are assessing Georgia’s progress in meeting its second-phase benchmarks.
“We are now awaiting the results and recommendations of the ongoing expert missions,” the European Council President, Donald Tusk, said after the meeting with the Georgian PM on February 26.
“We are making good progress on this and I hope that at our next meeting in Riga, we can be successful in this context,” Tusk added.