Reuters International

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - A European Parliament committee voted on Monday to grant visa-free travel to the European Union from the former Soviet republic of Georgia, after worries over immigration to the bloc delayed the process earlier in the summer.

The committee voted 44 in favour versus five against for liberalisation, although the decision must still be approved in more negotiations between the parliament and EU states. Germany was among those to have voiced strong reservations.

Brussels says that the country of 3 million had met the criteria for visa-free travel but, to Tbilisi's frustration, the EU, shaken by a mass influx of migrants and refugees in 2015, put a brake on easing travel requirements for third countries before the summer.

For Georgia and Ukraine, which is also seeking visa-free travel to the EU, the issue is part of a geopolitical tussle with Russia over ex-Soviet states with Western aspirations that Moscow still sees as its own backyard.

Georgia was at the heart of international tensions in 2008 when a disastrous five-day war between Tbilisi and Moscow in August led to the previous sharp deterioration in ties between Russia and the West.

(Reporting by Gabriela Baczynska; Editing by Catherine Evans)


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