9 Jun 2016 - 17:56
Five European states have penned a joint letter urging the Council of Europe (CoE) and European Parliament (EP) to grant Georgia visa-free travel to the EU before the end of this month.
The Interior and Foreign Ministers from Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Romania released a joint letter on June 9 appealing to the EU authorities to support Georgia’s visa-free travel to the Schengen zone.
Top five EU country officials addressed their letter to the Dutch presidency of the EU Council and the EU Foreign Service, reported independent online newspaper EU Observer from Brussels, Belgium.
"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,” said the five EU officials in the letter.
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.
Meanwhile president of Germany’s Bundestag (national parliament) Norbert Lammer told Georgia’s Parliament Speaker that EU member states Interior Ministers would discuss Georgia’s visa liberalisation on June 10.
It is understood EU ambassadors will discuss Ukraine’s visa liberalisation bid on June 14. Ukraine has also fulfilled all European Commission conditions for visa-free travel to the EU.
Several times in recent months a decision on Georgia’s visa liberalisation has been postponed by officials in Brussels. RFE/RL reported yesterday Germany, France and Italy still did not agree on offering visa-free travel to Georgia. The remaining 25 EU member states were ready to finalise Georgia’s visa liberalisation.