Georgian President Meets Germany’s Merkel to Talk Visa-Free Regime

BERLIN - Georgian President Giorgi Margvelashvili on Thursday met with German Chancellor Angela Merkel while on an official visit to Berlin to take part in discussions concerning bilateral relations and the EU’s landmark visa-free regime for Georgia.

The two parties also discussed the ongoing situation in Georgia’s two Russian-occupied breakaway regions Abkhazia and South Ossetia, regional security environment and the current developments in the European Union.

Margvelashvili’s Advisor for Foreign Issues, Tengiz Pkhaladze, said Merkel was supportive and showed great interest in the most recent political and social developments in Georgia.

Margvelashvili also met with his German counterpart, Joachim Gauck, and other high-ranking officials during his two-day visit.

The Georgian delegation’s visit comes on the heels of a growing speculation that a key agreement signed in December 2015 that would allow Georgians to travel to the EU visa-free may be scrapped due to growing opposition to the agreement by some EU members.

The Reuters news agency reported in early June, based on an unnamed EU diplomat, that Germany led a last-minute push to halt talks on granting easier travel requirements for Georgian passport holders over concerns about organized crime syndicates with ties to Georgia.

More than 3 million Georgian citizens were expected visa-free travel to Europe’s Schengen zone beginning early this summer. Following Berlin’s sudden about-face, the EU is now making it easier to suspend visa waivers for countries wishing to move closer towards full European integration.

By Tamar Svanidze

Edited by Nicholas Waller


01 July 2016 13:57