Georgia Marks One Year of Visa-Liberalization with EU

Exactly one year ago, Georgia was granted visa-free travel with the European Union and on March 28, 2017, the first Georgians, composed of a group of governmental officials, students, scholars and media representatives, took their first visa-free trip to the EU.

According to the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Georgia, 192,453 Georgian citizens have visited the Schengen Zone 258,663 times, while 1001 Georgians were refused to enter the EU territory.

Deputy Foreign Minister of Georgia, Vakhtang Makharoblishvili, stated that according to a December 20 report by the European Commission, Georgia has been successfully implementing its visa-liberalization requirements. However, there have been some specific problems in recent months regarding the violation of visa-free rules and increased number of asylum-seekers from Georgia.

“In this regard, we started very active work both in our country and with our partners and the EU, in Brussels," Makharoblishvili said. "A number of legislative amendments have been planned, as has an information campaign on the issue of asylum seekers. All countries where police attachés are sent from Georgia positively evaluate this institute. So we can say that we have been trying to respond to these challenges instantly."

Georgian Prime Minister, Giorgi Kvirikashvili, also made a statement regarding the anniversary.

“This is the greatest achievement of our country, the result of steps taken by the government, but at the same time, the outcome of the European choice of our population. Therefore, we are proud that Georgia has achieved our citizens being able to move freely in the Schengen Area countries, but this is not just about visa free travel: it is a great political step and a sign of confidence from the European Union towards Georgia. Once again, I would like to thank all of our partners, our friends, who have taken this step towards us," Kvirikashvili said.

The visa-free regime with the EU took effect on March 28, 2017, meaning all Georgians holding biometric passports can now enter the Schengen Area for 90 days within any 180-day period for vacation, business, or any other purpose except work.

Georgians are able to travel without visas to the following 22 EU member states: Belgium, Austria, Germany, Denmark, Spain, Estonia, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Greece, France, Slovenia, Slovakia, Hungary, Finland, Sweden, and the Czech Republic.

Georgians can also travel without visas to four non-EU-member states (Iceland, Lichtenstein, Norway and Switzerland) as well as four Schengen candidate countries (Bulgaria, Cyprus, Romania and Croatia).  

Exceptions for visa-free travel include Ireland and the United Kingdom.

By Thea Morrison 

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28 March 2018 09:00