Tuesday

23rd Jul 2019

Five EU states push for Georgia visa waiver

  • Georgians had hoped to enjoy their first visa-free summer holidays in the EU this year (Photo: Curt Smith)

Five EU states have urged the bloc to grant visa-free travel to Georgia at the earliest opportunity for the sake of EU “credibility”.

Interior and foreign affairs ministers from Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Romania issued the appeal in a letter, seen by EUobserver, on Thursday (9 June) to the Dutch presidency of the EU Council and the EU foreign service.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

The letter said they hoped that an agreement could be reached at a home affairs ministers’ meeting in Luxembourg on Friday or a foreign ministers’ meeting on 20 June.

They spoke out after France, Germany and Italy, at an EU ambassadors’ meeting on Wednesday, blocked the move.

Germany, which led the rebellion, cited domestic public concern over an alleged crime spree by gangs of Georgian nationals.

The letter said that since Georgia had fulfilled all EU conditions for the visa waiver “we need to deliver on our side as well”.

“Any further postponement to take a decision will undermine our credibility and might have adverse effects on European integration-related reforms in Georgia as well as in other partner countries,” the five countries added.

Ukraine has also fulfilled European Commission visa-free conditions, with EU diplomats to discuss its waiver on 14 June.

However, Germany has indicated that it might delay the Ukraine decision as well.

One EU diplomat said Germany delayed the Georgia move because it wanted to grant the waiver to Ukraine at the same time. The diplomat said Germany might delay Ukraine to use the waiver as leverage on the Minsk ceasefire accord.

“Some member states would slow down visa liberalisation for Georgia in order to appease Ukraine,” he said. He added that EU visa policy “should help in keeping Ukraine fully on board in the Minsk process”.

The Minsk deal, which was brokered by France and Germany last year, obliged Russia to pull out of Ukraine and Ukraine to devolve power to what are today Russia-controlled regions.

The EU diplomat said if things go well, both states should get the visa perks in September.

The European Parliament must ratify the move, but that process would be hard to complete before the summer break even if EU states gave the green light to MEPs, the diplomat said.

Speaking to EUobserver in Brussels on Wednesday, Georgian president Giorgi Margvelashvili said he received “strong support” from MEPs when he visited Strasbourg on Tuesday.

He said the visa move would help “pro-Western and pro-European” parties retain support in Georgia elections in October.

Germany blocks Georgia's EU visa bid

Germany has blocked Georgia's EU visa waiver, citing a crime spree. Critics say the political decision could undermine EU credibility in eastern Europe.

Merkel casts doubt on Turkey visa-free travel

German chancellor after meeting with the Turkish president, said it was likely that conditions would not be met by 1 July as agreed in the EU-Turkey migrant deal.

Kosovo's gloomy visa-free future

EU proposal to lift visas for Kosovars created a positive buzz in Pristina. But what will it do to improve ordinary people's lives?

Interview

Russia 'ready to destabilise half of Eurasia'

Russia does not have a veto on Georgia’s foreign policy and billionaire Bidzina Ivanishvili does not rule the country, the Georgian president has said.

News in Brief

  1. Johnson is next British prime minister
  2. Johnson set to be announced British PM on Tuesday
  3. UK-based owners of .eu domains could keep name
  4. Weyand: EU would respond to US tariffs on cars
  5. UK foreign office minister quits ahead of Johnson as PM
  6. AKK to boost Bundeswehr budget to Nato target
  7. Police arrest 25 after Polish LGBT-march attack
  8. Ukrainian president's party tops parliament election

Analysis

EU should stop an insane US-Iran war

"If Iran wants to fight, that will be the official end of Iran. Never threaten the United States again!", US president Donald Trump tweeted on Monday (20 May).

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDAUNESDA reduces added sugars 11.9% between 2015-2017
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsEU-Uzbekistan Human Rights Dialogue: EU to raise key fundamental rights issues
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNo evidence that social media are harmful to young people
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersCanada to host the joint Nordic cultural initiative 2021
  5. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work
  7. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  8. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  9. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  10. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  11. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North

Latest News

  1. Macron: 14 EU states agree on a migration 'mechanism'
  2. As Johnson set to become PM, ministers pledge to resign
  3. Poland's PiS prepares 'failsafe' for October election
  4. Abortion Wars
  5. EU goes on holiday as new UK PM arrives This WEEK
  6. Survey: Half of EU staff 'don't know' ethics rules
  7. Von der Leyen signals soft touch on migrants, rule of law
  8. Timmermans: von der Leyen will be tough on rule of law

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us