Andrejs Mamikins is a Member of the European Parliament from Latvia. He was responsible for visa liberalisation with Georgia in the Foreign Affairs Committee of the European Parliament and is the spokesperson on the issue in the Group of the Socialists and Democrats in the EP.
This interview was taken by the OPEN Media Hub for GARB TV on March 1, 2017
To what extent should one see visa liberalisation for Georgia as another step on the path towards EU membership? And in this respect what has been the experience of other countries (the Baltic states, for instance)?
The free visa regime for Georgia and Georgians is a part of of Georgia’s EU integration but I have to say that there is no clear signal to next EU enlargement and for Georgia to be invited as a candidate to full membership. As to compare with Latvia and the times 13 years ago, there were not only clear willingness of the political elites of Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania, Poland or Slovakia for example, to enter the EU, but also a clear position of the political elites in Berlin, Brussels, London and Paris.
In that time we had very good political landscape inside EU.
This is not good moment for Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine and other EU associated countries because the EU now has a lot of internal problems. Migration crisis, economic problems, problems in the Eurozone, in Greece and so on. This means that you have to wait. Unfortunately. I am very sad that things went that way.
Can you say for how long the Georgians have to wait?
We know the statement of the president of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker – no enlargement during his mandate. But, of course, we know also that this is enough for his political career and that he is not running for next mandate. This means that we will have new president of EU in November 2019. Possibly this could be time for new challenges for the EU. What I can say is that is possible for the EU to change its policy towards new member states because Georgia now is fully prepared for the membership. You made an excellent progress in my opinion in your internal policy. and this is great. I hoe that Georgia sooner or later will become a full member of the EU.
What is that you see as a main challenge ahead of Georgia on its way to the
The main problem is the territorial integrity, of course. European parliament’s position, and ours in the Foreign Affairs committee, is fully in favour of Georgian territorial integrity. We think that Abkhazia and Tskhinvali region, or South Ossetia are part of the whole constitutional space of the state of Georgia. And full stop. This is our main point.
Of course, as a country and as a people, you are now facing economic problems, problems with your national currency. But anyway, this is such small problems, that could be solved in 1-2 years, believe me.