During a meeting of the EU Justice and Home Affairs Council on Friday in Luxembourg, Ministers of the EU countries were not able to reach an agreement on the liberalization of the visa regime for Georgia, Ukraine, Kosovo and Turkey, Interfax-Ukraine reported.
"We’ve talked about the liberalization of visa policies, noting the progress made by all countries, including Turkey. But we have not made a decision yet, because some EU countries still see a number of problems and are not able to agree. We will continue to work to reach an agreement on the four candidates [Georgia, Ukraine, Kosovo and Turkey], as soon as these countries meet all of the criteria," Secretary of State of The Netherlands for Security and Justice, Klaas Dijkhoff, said at a press conference after the Council meeting.
He refused to answer journalists' questions about which EU countries objected to the decision on the visa-free regime or what arguments they brought up, although members of the press stated the main opponents of the decision were Germany, Italy and France.
Participating in the press conference, the European Commissioner for Home Affairs, Dimitris Avramopoulos, in turn, said, "We exchanged views on a proposal from the Commission on the liberalization of visas for Georgia, Ukraine, Kosovo and Turkey. The Commission was quite clear in its recommendations, and I hope that progress will be made in the EU Council and the European Parliament, and that it will happen soon."
Explaining how the process of discussing the visa issue is conducted, Dijkhoff said, "The Presidency [The Netherlands in the European Union] believes that it is important to find the heart of the problem so we can start to work on a solution. And we are still working on the approval of visa liberalization for Georgia. As for the other countries, some of them did not fulfill the established criteria. It's necessary to wait for the Commission to give us the green light. The milestones have already been put in place, and we do not intend to dwell on this successful path," the Dutch Secretary of State continued.
"This very long process sometimes halts. Let's take Georgia's case for example, which was very close to before the process got stuck. The only thing to do is to vote. If there is no majority, then the necessary work must be done to eliminate last obstacles," he added.
Avramopulos found it necessary to repeat the European Commission's position on Georgia, stating "As for Georgia, the commission was very clear in its recommendations. We believe that all the conditions have been met. Georgia complied with all the standards. Of course, there are some Member States which are not fully convinced yet. But I can tell you that we continue to exert pressure in favor of concluding the agreement as soon as possible."