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France says wrong time for EU to lift visas for Georgia, Kosovo, Ukraine


Brussels  –   says it is a wrong time for the European Union to grant visa-free access to citizens of Georgia, Ukraine and Kosovo.

French Interior Minister, Bernard Cazeneuve, says the decision dampens the countries’ hopes of achieving the sought-after benefit in the coming months.

“This subject cannot be dealt with in the coming weeks and months. That is not the wish of France,” Cazeneuve says at a meeting with his EU counterparts in Brussels.

The EU must carry out a “very rigorous monitoring” of the conditions under which the three countries met the bloc’s visa liberalisation criteria,” he said.

EU nations had agreed on Friday to make it easier to suspend its visa waiver programmes with some countries, just as Turkey is trying to secure visa-free travel for its citizens.

EU interior and migration ministers sealed an agreement on the emergency brake system during talks in Brussels.

The so-called “suspension mechanism” would come into play to ensure security and if a country fails to respect its obligations.

It is aimed at new visa waiver programmes that are in the works for Georgia, Ukraine, Kosovo and Turkey.

The waivers would grant citizens of the four visa-free travel in Europe for business or leisure purposes for up to 90 days.

But many European states are concerned by the prospect of opening the EU’s gates wider at a time when the bloc is struggling to cope with hundreds of thousands of refugees.

“We can’t allow visa liberalisation to happen without any precautions, without a managed calendar or in a rush as some want to impose on us.

So, we have taken an extremely firm position,” Cazeneuve said.

Ministers have been at pains to point out that the mechanism applies to all visa waiver countries so that Turkey does not feel targeted.(dpa/NAN)

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