European Commission backs visa-free travel for Georgia, Ukraine

BRUSSELS/TBILISI, Dec 18 (Reuters) – The European Commission said on Friday it backed visa-free travel for Georgia and Ukraine and would propose a visa waiver next year for citizens of the two ex-Soviet countries to travel to European Union member states.

For most Georgians and Ukrainians visa-free travel to Europe would be the single biggest tangible gain from their countries’ moves towards joining the European mainstream which have antagonised Russia.

“The Commission will present in early 2016 legislative proposals to the Council and the European parliament to lift visa requirements for Georgian and Ukrainian citizens holding a biometric passport,” the European Union’s executive branch, said in a statement.

It said both Georgia and Ukraine had fulfilled all the benchmarks of its visa liberalisation action plan. It also adopted a report on Kosovo’s progress in meeting criteria for visa-free travel.

“The Commission recommends visa liberalisation for Georgia, Kosovo and Ukraine  I call on EU governments in the Council to take a speedy decision for these three countries,” Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker told a news conference after the EU summit in Brussels.

Georgian Prime Minister Irakly Garibashvili said the decision was acknowledgement of Georgia’s “commitment to European values.” Georgia signed a free trade agreement with the EU in June 2014.


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