It is cold and rainy in the charming capital of Georgia, Tbilisi. The political debate is however hot. 24 intensive hours are coming to an end. The reason behind this travel was our negotiations on visa liberalisation and on the criteria that should apply for Georgian citizens travelling to the EU without a visa. The action plan with specific requirements is now finished and Georgia will thus take the next step towards visa liberalisation and increasing contacts and opportunities for ordinary people to travel and meet.
The negotiations on visa liberalisation are an important part of the EU’s work on acloser cooperation with the neighbouring regions. Legislation areas relevant to the negotiations is for example legislation against corruption and organised crime, protection of human rights and minorities’ rights, as well as immigration and asylum legislation. The respect for fundamental rights and an independent judiciary are also key components.
During the day I have met President Saakashvili, the Prime Minister Ivanishvili, the Minister of Interior Affairs Garibashivili, the Minister of Foreign Affairs Panjikidze and the Minister for European-Asian Integration Petriashvili. We have talked about the efforts that have been made so far through various reforms, but we have also discussed EU-Georgian relations in general.
The situation in Georgia is extremely polarised between the government and the President and the opposition that lost the elections in October last year. “Cohabitation” is not easy but both sides of Georgian politics have to make significant efforts in order to find a constructive way of coexisting. It is like a democratic maturity test for Georgia.
I will not only meet with representatives of the government, tonight I will have dinner with representatives from the civil society, different Georgian NGOs that will be given the opportunity to talk about their view of migration, human rights and security issues.