Magazine article Europe-East

Eu/georgia : Talks on New Trade and Visa Deals with Tbilisi Still on Hold

Magazine article Europe-East

Eu/georgia : Talks on New Trade and Visa Deals with Tbilisi Still on Hold

Article excerpt

Over six months after declaring a strong commitment to "step up its relations with Georgia" at the extraordinary summit held on 1 September 2008 following the Georgia-Russia war in August, the European Union is still not ready to open negotiations with Tbilisi on a free trade agreement. Uncertainty also surrounds the fate of a visa facilitation agreement due to growing reluctance among the member states to open themselves to migration from the East.

As for the free trade agreement, the Commission has not yet concluded the necessary preparatory work to formulate the mandate for negotiations with Georgia.

"We are working towards a free trade agreement [with Georgia]. In May, another Commission delegation from DG Trade will go there in order to discuss with the Georgian side the different prerequisites [to opening negotiations]," Benita Ferrero-Waldner, the commissioner for external relations and the European Neighbourhood Policy said, on 5 March, at a joint press conference with Georgia's newly appointed Prime Minister, Nikoloz Gilauri.

Following the 1 September 2008 extraordinary summit, DG Trade sent, in mid-October, its first mission to Georgia to assess the country's readiness to open negotiations on a free trade agreement. However, the results of the mission were not satisfactory. There is hope, according to Ferrero-Waldner, that the second delegation planned for May will provide for more clarity as to whether Tbilisi is ready to open negotiations. …

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