Magazine article Europe-East

Eu/georgia : Visa Facilitation Talks Set to Get Underway

Magazine article Europe-East

Eu/georgia : Visa Facilitation Talks Set to Get Underway

Article excerpt

The European Commission recommended, on 25 September, the opening of negotiations on visa facilitation and readmission agreements with Georgia. The talks are set to aim at providing Georgian citizens with visa access terms equivalent to those granted earlier to the Russians. Under the current rules, the residents of the breakaway Georgian regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia who hold a Russian passport are subject to less restrictive measures than the Georgian citizens. The new agreement is set to abolish this inequality.

The Commission's decision follows a call from EU leaders at the European Council's extraordinary meeting on the crisis in Georgia held on 1 September to ease the visa regime for Georgian citizens. The new visa system to be agreed with Georgia is one of several measures the EU decided to introduce at that time to enhance its relations with Tbilisi following the five-day war between Georgia and Russia in August.

"Visa facilitation is very important for ordinary citizens as they can have cheaper and easier conditions to travel, study, do business with the EU. Easier access to visas will certainly improve cooperation and exchanges between the EU and Georgia," said Vice President Jacques Barrot, the commissioner responsible for justice, freedom and security.

The mandate for the negotiations adopted by the Commission is now awaiting the Council's approval. "The Commission wants the recommendation to be endorsed as soon as possible," a Commission spokesperson told Europolitics New Neighbours. …

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