Georgian PM: Visa-Free Travel Next Logical Step in EU Intergration

EurActiv has published the Georgian Prime Minister’s thoughts around the country’s European future, summarizing his visit to Brussels this week.

“There’s nothing quite like people-to-people contact for strengthening relationships. This is true at all levels of engagement, be it political, business or touristic,” Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili has stated.

“I myself experienced this first-hand in Brussels this week during the second meeting of the EU-Georgia Association Agreement Council, which confirmed that our progress towards European integration is on track.”

The PM states that during their discussions [they] “won recognition for [their] government's sweeping political and economic reforms over recent years that have brought Georgia into line with European norms. This progress is reflected in our steady rise in international rankings for democratic standards, including elections, freedom of speech and the media, rule of law, protection of human rights, transparency, and eradication of corruption.”

According to Garibashvili, since coming to power in 2012, the Georgian Dream government has prioritized increasing transparency, good governance, political accountability and cooperation with civil society as part of their commitment to democratic development and European Integration. “We have also acted to ensure independence of the judiciary and to safeguard press freedom.”

The PM also talked about the crossroads between East and West, the gateway to Asia and the potential role Georgia has to play.

“Equally, our Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area (DCFTA) with the EU is bearing fruit, with our bilateral economic ties continuing to increase. Uniquely placed as we are at the crossroads between East and West, we are providing Europe with a gateway to Asia. This was recently showcased by the inaugural Tbilisi Silk Road Forum that we hosted as a platform for international political and business leaders to explore future opportunities for cooperation.”

“It was clear during today's meeting that Georgia's path towards EU integration is irreversible. Some 80 percent of Georgians want closer relations with the EU. It was acknowledged that the benefits for the EU are obvious. Georgia is a success story for the Eastern Partnership and for EU soft power. Yet we need to go further to secure the stability of our region and to shore up human rights. The logical next step on our European journey is visa liberalization. This is fundamental to the implementation of our Association Agreement with the EU. Without visa-free travel across Europe for Georgians, we cannot make further progress on the people-to-people exchanges that will really cement EU values in our country and region” Garibashvili concluded.

Full text available here:

18 November 2015 14:15