EU Commissioner for Home Affairs Cecilia Malmström handed over to the Georgian leadership Visa Liberalisation Action Plan, a set of detailed requirements that a country should meet in order to be granted by the EU visa-free travel rules.
The action plan, according to the European Commission, is structured in four blocks of measures dealing with document security, border and migration management, public order and security and relevant external relations issues.
It contains set of benchmarks ranging from policy framework, that includes legislation and planning, to more specific requirements implementation of which will be regularly assessed by the European Commission.
Visa liberalisation talks address areas such as fight against corruption and organized crime, data protection, anti-discrimination and protection of minorities, as well as judicial reform aiming at ensuring the independence of the justice system.
“We encourage very much Georgia to pursue reforms and efforts in all the areas that are relevant for the visa liberalisation dialogue,” EU Commissioner for Home Affairs Cecilia Malmström said after meeting with President Saakashvili in Tbilisi on February 25.
President Saakashvili said implementation of this action plan would lead to visa-free travel rules with the EU, which, he said, would be “a historic breakthrough” for Georgia, including in respect of EU integration.
“A lot of work has to be done in this regard; it’s not an easy process,” Saakashvili said. “No matter of tensions between the political parties, we should not in any way stop our movement towards Europe.”
After talks with President Saakashvili, Commissioner Malmström met PM Bidzina Ivanishvili. Prime Minister’s office said that during the meeting Ivanishvili pledged that his government would implement all the required measures in order to achieve visa-free regime with the EU.
After meeting with the President, Commissioner Malmström said that democratic change of government in Georgia as a result of parliamentary elections in October, 2012 “did not in any way affect Georgia’s relation with the EU.”
“We had good relations with the former government; we have good relations with this government,” she said.
“I know that cohabitation is not easy, but it needs to be manageable in a constructive and responsible way and we expect all parties – the President, the government and the Prime Minister to play their role in order to find smooth and pragmatic solution. The constitution needs to be respected by all sides,” Commissioner Malmström said, adding that constitutional changes need to be “managed carefully and in accordance with international standards.”
“Georgia has so far been an example in the region and we hope very much that it will remain being so,” she added.
Georgia and the European Union announced about the launch of the visa liberalisation dialogue with an aim to examine all the relevant conditions for visa-free travel to the EU for Georgian citizen in June, 2012.
No visa is required for EU citizens to enter into Georgia. Georgia has visa facilitation and readmission agreements with the EU.
Commissioner Malmström said that it was now too early to speak about the timetable of action plan’s implementation.
“That depends very much on reform path of the government,” she said. “We are willing to try to help, but of course the work needs to be done by the government and the parliament.”