Georgia Expects EU Visa Free Regime by June

TBILISI – Georgian government officials expect the EU’s visa free regime to come into affect by no later than the end of June, Georgia’s Foreign Minister Mikheil Janelidze said in Brussels Friday following meetings with top European officials.

Janelidze said he expected members of the European Commission to officially submit their proposal on visa free travel by 8 March.

The EU’s expected proposal comes in the wake of Brussels’ decision to review Georgia’s visa liberalization application separately from Ukraine.

A joint visa liberalization process for Georgia and Ukraine had been on going until earlier this week when the European Commission decided to de-couple the two countries amid deep concerns from several Schengen zone countries over the unstable political and security situation in Ukraine.

Kiev has been fighting a two year-old war with Russia and its local separatist proxies in the eastern Donbass region.

The European parliament has said it would consider re-instating the joint process once the situation stabilizes in Ukraine. The commission would then voluntarily postpone their vote on granting visa-free travel until both Kiev and Tbilisi were ready.

Brussels initially approved Georgia’s bid for visa-free access to the bloc on 18 December 2015

The European Commission noted at the time that Georgia had carried out the promised reforms promised to win the EU’s backing.

By Nicholas Waller

05 March 2016 22:45