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Georgian, German Parliament Speakers Meet in Berlin, Discuss EU Visa Waiver
Civil Georgia, Tbilisi / 8 Jun.'16 / 19:02

Speaker of the Georgian Parliament, Davit Usupashvili, met President of the German lower house of parliament, Bundestag, Norbert Lammert, in Berlin on June 8 and discussed EU visa liberalisation for Georgia, which appears to be delaying because of the German objection.
 
Both of the parliament speakers have suggested that the EU visa waiver for Georgia is not being discussed in isolation from other developments in Europe and the issue is also related to visa liberalisation process for other countries.

Bundestag President Norbert Lammert, who visited Georgia last February, acknowledged that Georgia has met all the criteria for the EU visa liberalisation, but stressed that it is not a matter of the German-Georgia bilateral relations and it requires a political decision within the EU, which in itself also depends on visa liberalisation issues with other countries.

Lammert also said, speaking through an interpreter, that a solution should now be found that would secure granting visa liberalisation to Georgia before its parliamentary elections in October.

He expressed hope that the June 10 meeting of the EU ministers in the Justice and Home Affairs Council will agree on principles about how to move ahead with the visa liberalisation in the condition when Georgia has already met all the criteria.

Although visa waiver for Georgia, which according to the EU has met all the criteria for the visa liberalisation, appears the least controversial compared to Turkey, Ukraine and Kosovo, Georgia’s issue seems to be, as some MEPs have put it during a meeting with Georgian President Giorgi Margvelashvili in Strasbourg this week, a “hostage” of controversy surrounding visa waiver for Turkey and to some extent Ukraine as well.

Reuters reported earlier this month that according to some diplomats in Brussels Germany may be reluctant to let Georgia through before Ukraine, because moving ahead with visa liberalisation of Georgia, but leaving Ukraine behind would “weaken the standing in Kiev of the pro-western President Petro Poroshenko.”

Georgian Parliament Speaker, Davit Usupashvili, said that after the meeting with his German counterpart he is now “more optimistic”.

“We are here with partners and friends so we have openly discussed all the issues,” Usupashvili said. “We have stressed once again that Georgia has met all the criteria [for EU visa waiver], but there are issues that have to be decided by the EU and I am sure that these issues will be decided very soon.”

“Not a single domestic Georgian development and process is part of a discussion in the context of the visa liberalisation,” Usupashvili said, suggesting that the final decision does not depend on Georgia’s internal political developments. “On the contrary, as Mr President [of the Bundestag] has just noted the fact that Georgia will hold elections in October is an indication for our European friends that the political decision [on the visa waiver] has to be in place sooner rather than later. So Georgia’s internal developments tell our friends to take decision as soon as possible.”

“Georgia’s visa liberalisation is not in isolation from other processes and developments,” Usupashvili said.

“A lot of important processes are taking place in parallel – visa liberalisation talks with other countries, migration issues and other topics, which are important for the EU, and if we, Georgians, want to become full-fledged members of Europe, we should learn not only how to consume European benefits, but also how to contribute to solving European problems,” he said.

“Therefore, we listen very carefully our partners’ views about details of discussions which are ongoing on various levels and we are very optimistic that specifically in respect of Georgia the decision [in favor of visa waiver] will be taken soon and the decision will be positive,” Usupashvili said.

“At the same time we all refrain from naming any specific dates, but the stance in general, as we have already heard, is that everyone wants to have a political decision before the parliamentary elections in Georgia,” he added.

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