Georgia’s Parliament Speaker Visits Brussels to Discuss Prospects of Visa Free Travel

BRUSSELS – Georgia’s Parliamentary Speaker Davit Usupashvili is meeting with top European officials as part of a two-day visit to Brussels that will focus on EU-Georgia relations.

Usupashvili met with Martin Schulz, the president of the European Parliament, to discuss Georgia’s visa liberalization process, bilateral relations, Georgia’s upcoming Parliamentary elections, as well as reforms in the judicial system and the state of press freedom in the country.

At a joint press conference, Schulz reiterated that Georgia a reliable partner for the EU and confirmed that Tbilisi will not have to implement any additional obligations in order to completer the visa liberalization process.

“We had a very intense conversation about the important regional role Georgia plays. We have agreed to maintain close contact at the maximal extent”, Schulz said.

Usupashvili said Georgia is close to realizing its goal of receiving an EU visa waiver, but warned that the government cannot take their progress for granted.

“We still have much to do, including judicial reform, making the country more attractive for investors, improving the business environmnet. This is why we want to be closer to the EU and have ongoing discussions about key issues,” Usupashvili said.

At the meeting, Schultz accepted Usupashvili’s invitation to Georgia, saying he planned to to visit the country in the coming months.

On Thursday, Usupashvili later met with the EU High Representative for Foreign Policy and Security Issues, Federica Mogherini.

Mogherini said she fully supports visa liberalization and EU accession for Georgia, saying the government in Tbilisi had fulfilled its obligations.

Following the meeting, Usupashvili said that due to the complexity of implementing a visa liberalization mechanism, the EU cannot set exact date of visa-lifting decision.

“The EU currently has a lot to consider, including visa-related issues with our neighbor countries, Turkey and Ukraine. We obtained a firm declaration from the heads of the EC and EU that the issue of Georgia’s visa liberalization will be considered separately from other countries,” Usupashvili said.

Usupashvili also said the residents of Georgia’s breakaway Abkhazia and South Ossetia regions will benefit significantly from a visa-free regime as it will allow them to be exposed to the outside world and come into closer contact with the daily realities of Georgian life. .

By Tamar Svanidze
Edited by Nicholas Waller

28 April 2016 17:04