15 Dec 2015

EU Delays Reports On Georgia, Ukraine Visa Liberalization


EU Delays Reports On Georgia, Ukraine Visa Liberalization(Civil.Ge) – EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said without elaborating details that “the work is still going on” in the European Commission and the reports will be out “this month, in the coming days.”

Georgia’s ambassador to the EU Natalie Sabanadze said the release of the reports was delayed because of Ukraine. She said the report might be published either on Friday or next Monday at the latest.

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Earlier on December 14, European Commission spokesperson Margaritis Schinas declined to confirm or deny that the release of reports was postponed until after the EU summit, which is scheduled for December 17-18.

But he mentioned in this context that Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko will be in Brussels for talks in the EU on Wednesday, December 16.

The German newspaper Die Welt reported last week citing unnamed diplomatic source in Brussels that the European Commission’s report will be positive and visa-free travel rules may be granted to Georgia and Ukraine by mid-2016. But in case of Ukraine the European Commission is expected to point out that the country has yet to take measures in some of the areas, specifically in fight against corruption by the spring 2016, according to last week’s report in Die Welt.

Although noncommittal about the precise reasons of the delay, Georgian officials, as well as some European officials, say that the European Commission’s report will be positive that will pave the way for lifting visa requirement for short-term stay in the Schengen zone for the Georgian citizens hopefully by mid-2016.

If in its report the European Commission proposes to grant visa-free regime, it will be then up to the EU-member states and the European Parliament to endorse the decision.

Lithuanian Foreign Minister Linas Linkevičius said in Brussels on December 14 that he believes the delay to release reports on Georgia and Ukraine was not because of political reasons.

“It’s technical,” he said. “It [the report] will come soon and I have no doubt, it will definitely be positive.”

Asked what was the reason behind the delay to release of reports on Georgia and Ukraine, EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said at a news conference after a meeting of EU foreign ministers in Brussels on December 14: “The intention is to publish reports in December – it was that from the beginning and the [European] Commission is working on this together with the authorities of the countries.”

“The debate that we had in the foreign affairs council here today that referred to the visa liberalization process was indicated… general positive assessment of the member states and the need to keep this good spirit as we know very well how important it is for the people of the countries,” Mogherini said.

“The work is still going on in the Commission and the reports are expected to be published this month, in the coming days,” she added.

EU ambassador to Georgia Janos Herman was planning a news conference for Tuesday afternoon on the occasion of report’s release, but on Monday evening the EU delegation said that the press conference was postponed for unspecified date.

On December 11 the Georgian government allocated GEL 220,450 for funding of events “to mark successful implementation of the visa liberalization action plan” with the EU.

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