Speaking at a Vilnius discussion on Georgia’s EU and NATO integration on Friday, Lithuania’s Foreign Minister Linas Linkevičius has said that postponing the decision is not fair, as Tbilisi has met all the requirements put forward by Brussels.
“I can understand and share your frustration. In my view, you should have been given (visa-free travels) some time ago, you made your homework,” Linkevičius said in his address to the Georgian ambassador.
“Now we hope that next month or in the beginning of October you will be. We are now waiting for the political season to come and I hope it will be done,” said the Lithuanian diplomacy chief.
Earlier this summer, the EU put off the final decision on visa-free travels for Georgia due to what diplomats said was scepticism fuelled by the migration crisis and the difficult talks with Turkey and Ukraine.
Georgia’s Ambassador in Vilnius Khatuna Salukvadze has emphasized that Georgia has indeed done all of its homework.
“All work done, all benchmarks are met. What remains is only a decision and political calendar that coincides with (general) elections,” said the Georgian diplomat.
The discussion at the Eastern Europe Studies Centre in Vilnius also discussed the possibilities for Georgia to join NATO.
Many Western countries strongly oppose the step, but Linkevičius has urged Georgia to be ready for possible change of moods.
“Before 2001, I was told you would never be members of NATO because of geopolitical priorities. My message to Georgians is to be optimistic. Even if the situation looks hopeless, you have to be moving. When time comes, you have to be ready,” said the Lithuanian minister.
Back in 2008, NATO pledged a membership perspective to Georgia, but the integration process came to a halt following the Georgian war with Russia.
After the war in 2008, Russia recognized the breakaway regions of Abkhasia and South Ossetia as independent republics, while Georgia and the Western world views them as occupied territories.