There is a “good progress” in the EU-Georgia relations, European Council President Donald Tusk said after meeting Georgian President Giorgi Margvelashvili in Brussels on June 8.
Reiterating the European Commission position that Georgia has met all the criteria to be granted visa free travel rules in the Schengen area, Tusk said he believes the final positive decision “will be forthcoming soon.”
But chances have now increased that decision will be delayed at least till autumn.
Georgia’s hopes for finalizing visa liberalisation process this summer have waned after last-minute objection from Germany, as well as from some other EU members, among them France.
The decision requires approval from the European Parliament and EU ministers in the Council of Justice and Home Affairs, which plans to discuss visa liberalisation for Georgia, as well as for Turkey, Ukraine and Kosovo at a meeting in Luxembourg on June 10.
Brussels-based EUobserver news website reported that committee of EU ambassadors, Coreper, failed again to agree on the issue on Wednesday, after France, Germany and Italy objected to moving ahead.
Tusk mentioned visa liberalisation by the end of his remarks made for the press after the meeting with the Georgian President.
“Strong pro-European stance of the Georgian people is a solid base for Georgia’s continued progress in implementing reforms and strengthening democracy and the rule of law,” Tusk said.
He said that the October 8 parliamentary elections will be an important test and also expressed concern over the violent incident in the village of Kortskheli, where leaders and activists of the opposition UNM party were beaten up by members of the ruling GDDG party. Criminal charges have been filed against six perpetrators without being arrested.
“Recent reports about violence against opposition politicians and members of the parliament are of real concern to me,” Tusk said.
“I welcome the fact that the perpetrators have now been charged. Obviously, all steps must now be taken to prevent such incidents in the future. Thank you Mister President for your very clear and tough assessment of these events. What I have heard is really promising,” he added.
“These elections will be an important test to the strength and resilience of Georgia’s democracy. It is our expectation that the Georgian authorities will make every effort to guarantee a respectful, inclusive, and orderly election environment. Free and pluralistic media is an essential precondition for that,” the European Council President said.
Tusk also reiterated EU’s support for Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.
“I underlined our firm commitment to conflict resolution and the policy of non-recognition and engagement,” he said.