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EU Parliament Committee OKs Georgia Visa Deal, Kosovo Deal In Limbo

BRUSSELS -- The European Parliament's civil liberties committee voted on September 5 for visa liberalization for Georgia to the EU's Schengen zone.

It also voted in favor of similar move for Kosovo but against the proposal to let the European Parliament negotiate this visa-liberalization deal with other EU institutions, leaving the deal for Pristina in limbo.

The entire European Parliament plenary is now likely to endorse the committee vote on Georgia at a vote during a full plenary, possibly in October.

EU member states must also give green light for the necessary legislation to enter into place.

Germany refused to support the measures before the summer, citing a spike in crimes allegedly committed by Georgians in Germany but according to RFE/RL sources, EU ambassadors might approve this time when they meet in Brussels on September 14.

EU ministers will then give a final approval. According to council sources, this is likely to happen after the parliamentary elections in Georgia on October 8.

For Kosovo, the path looks less clear. Members of the civil liberties committee voted in favor of the report proposing visa liberalization for Kosovo by one vote, 25-24, but against the proposal to let the author of the report, Slovenian MEP Tanja Fajon, start negotiating with the Council and the European Commission, also by one vote, 25-24.

The full plenary must now give Fajon a mandate to negotiate but Fajon told RFE/RL that she will only take it to the floor once Kosovo has fulfilled two outstanding issues: settling a border dispute with Montenegro and showing progress in fighting organized crime.

Kosovo also currently lacks support among several EU member states.

A vote in the same committee on visa liberalization for Ukraine is expected at the end of September.

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