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LIBE Committee Back Visa Waiver for Georgia

By Tea Mariamidze
Wednesday, September 7
The Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE) of the European Parliament supported the visa-free proposal for Georgia with 44 votes for and 5 against.

The decision was made on Monday, and LIBE voted for the report of rapporteur on Georgia Maria Gabriel. She asked that changes be made to regulation N 539/2001 of European Parliament and council, which implies moving Georgia from list 1 (countries which need a visa) to list 2 ( countries which do not need a visa for EU travel).

Also on Monday, the committee approved the same decision with regard to Kosovo by a slight majority.

The next step is to discuss the issue at the plenary session of EU parliament. The session is scheduled to be held from 2 to 6 October. Presumably Georgia’s issue will be put for voting at the plenary session during this period.

Once the proposal is adopted by the European Parliament and the Council, Georgian citizens with biometric passports will not need visas to pay short-term visits (for 90 days within any 180 day period) to 22 EU countries, 4 non-EU countries and 4 Schengen zone candidate countries. However, the visa exemption does not grant the right to work in the EU.

Georgia’s Foreign Ministry welcomed the vote results of LIBE, saying it is the recognition of the successful reforms implemented in Georgia, as well as another proof of political support of Georgia’s visa-liberalization from the EU.

Foreign Minister Mikheil Janelidze expects that soon there will be a positive result for Georgia.

“This was an important step and a decision in the process, which is quite complex,” Janelidze stated.

According to the minister, after this the rapporteurs on Georgia will be able to begin consultations with other EU institutions, such as the EU Council and the EU Commission.

The Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the European Union member states unanimously backed Georgia’s visa liberalization at the session held in Luxembourg on June 20.

Moreover, on September 3 Radio Liberty/Radio Free Europe said EU Enlargement Commissioner, Johannes Hahn is sure that the European Parliament will and all EU countries will make a positive decision on Georgia’s visa-liberalization this year.