: Reuters: Merkel backs Georgia visa-free travel to E.U., but suggests Ukraine link

19:24 Jun. 16, 2016

Reuters: Merkel backs Georgia visa-free travel to E.U., but suggests Ukraine link

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, right, and Georgian Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili brief the media after talks at the chancellery in Berlin, Germany, Wednesday, June 15, 2016. (AP Photo)

Ukraine has appealed to the EU not to grant Georgia visa-free access first

German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Wednesday endorsed swift approval of visa-free access to the European Union for Georgia, but suggested the move could be linked to visa liberalisation for Ukraine.

Both the south Caucasus country and Ukraine have met the criteria for the E.U. visa waiver, but Berlin earlier this month led last-minute opposition to the process.

Germany and a handful of other E.U. countries want the European Parliament to support a beefed up suspension mechanism that makes it easier to suspend visa waivers before granting the privilege to more countries, E.U. diplomats say.

"We would like this process to be concluded quickly. It is with the European Parliament now, " Merkel told a joint news conference with Georgian Prime Minister Georgy Kvirikashvili.

"I expect that we can agree swiftly on the issue of visa liberalisation for citizens of Georgia," she said.

Read also EU Council working group discusses visa-free regime for Ukraine

E.U. diplomats say that, in addition to waiting for the parliament to approve the emergency brake, European governments want to pressure Ukraine and Russia to implement the Minsk peace deal for eastern Ukraine.

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