Georgia hopes Euro-Atlantic orientation can ease visa regime

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On his working visit to Riga Thursday, Georgia’s President Giorgi Margvelashvili expressed appreciation for Latvia’s support for his country’s efforts as part of the Eastern Partnership with the European Union.

Georgia has maintained an eager course in the Euro-Atlantic direction, President Margvelashvili said. Ahead of the Riga Summit in May, Margvelashvili outlined some of his nation’s hopes for the future.

Atop the list, during the Riga Summit Georgia hopes that the EU will give the green light for starting the visa liberalization process, providing for simplified travel for citizens of Georgia to EU states.

“Latvia has a profound understanding of the current situation and values Georgia’s role in the framework of the Eastern Partnership. These are completely correct and deep insights about the prospects for regional security. It’s important that the summit is taking place in Riga, Latvia. I’m convinced we’ll make a good impression on the other states of the EU. Georgia expects that there will be clear messages and conclusions regarding our country after the summit,” Margvelashvili said.

On his part President Andris Bērziņš expressed his support for Georgia’s goals, despite uncertainty over whether all EU member states will come on board the idea of liberalizing the visa regime with Georgia.

“We in Latvia understand Georgia’s taste for freedom and desire to determine its own future. Latvia has consistently expressed its support for Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. We single-mindedly support the Euro-Atlantic course taken by Georgia and congratulate the Georgian people on their resolve and what they have achieved so far,” said President Bērziņš.

Georgian expert on EU affairs Vano Chikvadze told Latvian Radio that in light of the efforts to grow nearer to the EU, Tbilisi hopes that the Riga Summit will see concrete proposals with regard to joining the EU at some future point.

When Luxembourg assumes the Presidency of the Council of the EU, taking over from Trio partner Latvia in July, Georgian officials realize that other priorities will come to the fore, compared to Latvia, which chose to push the Eastern Partnership to the top of its agenda.

While the EU has very favorably noted Georgia’s reform efforts, Tbilisi has been urged to pay special attention to reforming its legal system.

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