EU Official: 99% Certain Georgia to get Visa-Free Regime in 2016

The European Parliament’s rapporteur for Georgia has predicted that at the beginning of next year Georgia will have the opportunity to participate in the visa-free scheme with the EU.

Speaking to Trend News the Rapporteur for Georgia Andrejs Mamikins highlighted that a very positive result for Georgia is expected from the European Commission this year.

“And it can be said with almost 99% certainty that the visa-free regime will be introduced next year,” Mamikins stated.

He emphasized that it was to some extent unfair not to grant Georgia a visa-free regime with the EU while providing Moldova with the privilege, because the two countries are comparable in terms of their territories, populations, current territorial problems, geographical locations and geopolitical importance.

Mamikins continued that Georgia, among the three countries newly associated with the EU, is regarded as a leading country, both in terms of the number of laws harmonized with EU rules and in terms of the number of projects being implemented within the country.

“We know how important it is for Georgian society to receive the visa-free regime, and that it is of a more symbolic significance rather than of political importance,” Mamikins explained. “We know how much Georgia- a high achiever in the dialogue between the Eastern Partnership and newly associated countries- is objectively resentful over Moldova’s having the visa-free regime, while it was not granted for Georgia.”

He also noted that Georgia’s preparations for introducing a visa-free regime with the EU are worth praising, and the country will almost certainly receive the regime once the report is presented.
“The visa-free procedure will be quite simple,” Mamikins stated, “perhaps there will be some symbolic vote in the European Parliament… But it is not difficult to foresee that the majority of MEPs will vote for it, since one year ago they voted for Georgia’s associate membership in the EU. The European Parliament made the main decision almost a year ago. Therefore this is a technical decision on the visa-free regime.”

Regarding the visa-free regime for other associated countries, Mamikins believes this will not happen in 2016. He also stated there will be no visa-free regime with Ukraine and that there is very little change of the scheme happening between the EU and Turkey.

“Turkey has been misled since 1963,” he commented, “When Turkey obtained an associate status, it was very close to beginning main negotiations on full EU membership. Then this intensity decreased due to a number of reasons, mainly domestic in Turkey and external in the EU. Many people in the European External Action Service and the European Parliament say that this dialogue must be resumed at the previous level.”

In May 2015 at the Riga Eastern Partnership Summit, the EU Commission said neither Georgia nor Ukraine would obtain visa-free travel to the EU’s Schengen zone.

13 November 2015 14:23