EPP President Comes Under Fire for Disbelieving Statement on Georga’s Visa Free Travel

TBILISI - The President of the European People’s Party (EPP) Joseph Daul is currently visiting Georgia’s capital Tbilisi.

He arrived in Tbilisi yesterday to meet with members of the United National Movement (UNM) opposition party, which has been a member of the ENP since 2008, as well as to hold meetings with the Speaker of the Parliament of Georgia, David Usupashvili, and leaders of the opposition party Free Democrats.

Members of the "Left Alliance" opposition party held a rally in the airport and protested Daul’s statement where he said that the EPP would only support Georgia’s visa free regime with the EU if Georgia will hold fair and independent parliamentary elections.

"This person is corrupt, and we call on him not to damage the future of Georgia," Zurab Dokhadze, a participant of the rally stated.

Later, the EPP President made explanations for the media about the statement that he made a few days ago regarding visa liberalization.

“I want to tell Georgians – you will have visa liberalization, but it can be delayed,” Daul, said after visiting the National Movement leaders Vano Merabishvili, Bacho Akhalaia and Gigi Ugulava who are serving their sentences in the so-called Matrosov prison yesterday.

“I have always considered Georgia to be the country that has the right and the obligation to join the European Union. I would be the first to support the idea, if possible, to allow for visa liberalization, but I do not want to lose hope. In my experience, I know that the people who are waiting for something, sometimes they become disappointed. People should prepare for any decision.”

Daul Emphasized that there are some procedures in the process of visa liberalization, which are now being underway and which will be positive and therefore it was hard to say whether visa liberalization would take place on 15th June or at the end of the year.

“The European Commission made a decision on the visa issue, but the Council and the European Parliament have yet to make their decisions,” Daul stated.

According to him, Georgia should continue to fight against corruption and strengthen the rule of law and judicial independence.

Daul will meet with representatives of Georgian government, opposition and non-governmental organizations within the framework of his two day working visit in Georgia.

By Tamar Svanidze
Edited by Chloe Diamond

31 March 2016 14:47