German MPs say suspending EU visa-free travel for Georgians is ‘not the right answer’

German MPs say suspending EU visa-free travel for Georgians is ‘not the right answer’

Excluding Georgian citizens from the EU from the visa requirement would not be the right answer at this point in time, said Bundestag member Robin Wagener.

Wagener added that people in Georgia want to be part of the EU and that “we want them to be able to travel to Europe” to get to know the EU and also see what it is like to live in the EU. Therefore, suspending visa-free travel would not be the right answer at this point, reports Schengen.News.

Wagener made his comments at a joint press conference with two other members of the Bundestag, Thomas Hucker and Knut Abraham.

Thomas Hucker spoke about EU-related issues during the press conference and said that travelling is the best way to get to know each other, especially for young people, for educational or work purposes. According to him, visa-free travel is necessary to bring different people together.

In this context, Knut Abraham, member of the German Bundestag, strongly advised against tampering with visa-free travel for the population.

“This was a great achievement in 2006 and a hard struggle, not for technical reasons, but because it was a political sign that you belong to us. It is easy to abolish such an achievement, but it is extremely difficult, almost impossible, to restore it, and I fear that by taking such a step we would be catering to the interests of circles of people who have no interest in Georgia’s European future.”

Member of the Bundestag Knut Abraham

Georgia’s adoption of the Foreign Agents Law prompts other countries to consider suspending visa requirements for travel

In May this year, the Georgian parliament passed the law on foreign agents by 84 votes to 30.

The bill would require non-governmental organizations and independent media that receive more than 20 percent of their funding from international sources to register as organizations that “represent the interests of a foreign power.”

In addition, while under surveillance by the Ministry of Justice, they could be forced to disclose confidential information or face fines of over 25,000 GEL ($9,400; £7,500).

The adoption of this law sparked protests in Tbilisi. Demonstrators expressed fears that the Georgian government could misuse the law to suppress political opponents.

Shortly after the law was passed, US authorities imposed sanctions against Georgia, including visa restrictions.

In addition, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Washington was launching a comprehensive review of bilateral cooperation between the US and Georgia.

In Europe, EU Ambassador to Georgia Paweł Herczyński said last month that as a result of the adoption of the controversial new law, EU member states could decide to suspend visa-free travel for Georgian nationals for six months.