“The Georgia deal is part of broader EU plans to open up to visitors also from Kosovo, Ukraine and Turkey… Ukraine has met all the EU’s technical benchmarks, but member states want to see progress on anti-corruption reforms before going ahead. “It is in the pipeline, but not there yet”, Slovakia’s Lajcak said on the Ukraine deal… Prior to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in 2014, the EU had also been in advanced talks on visa-free travel for Russian nationals, but those negotiations were put on hold as part of Europe’s sanctions regime.”.

EU states have agreed to grant Georgian nationals visa-free travel to the Schengen zone, once new safeguards are in place to suspend the deal in case of abuse.

“The council takes the view that the entry into force of visa liberalisation for Georgia should be at the same time as the entry into force of the new ‘suspension mechanism’,” they said in a statement on Wednesday (5 October).

The news comes ahead of parliamentary elections in Georgia on 8 October and could give a bump to pro-European parties in the poll.

The “suspension mechanism” is a European Commission proposal that will, in future, allow EU states to “snap back” visa restrictions more easily in case of mass-scale overstays or bogus asylum claims by any non-EU country.

Details of the mechanism are still subject to EU states’ negotiations with MEPs.

Those talks are expected to conclude by the end of the year, meaning that Georgian people should be able to visit the 25 Schengen states (22 EU states plus Iceland, Norway, and Switzerland) without permits before 2017.

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