Open the Doors and Off We Go! But Will We Come Back Voluntarily?


Something unimaginable is happening to the Georgian passport: it is going to be honored all over Europe very soon.

A short while back, the Georgian passport was a real piece of junk. Just a quarter of a century ago we didn’t even know exactly who we were. Probably nothing more than one heartbreakingly unnoticeable splinter of the fragmented soviet residue! Our national identity was blurry. We looked like a stray lousy dog on a leading-nowhere dangerous and dirty global avenue, many of us looking for food and shelter under the darkened skies like trembling and soliciting panhandlers with dirty hole-ridden hats in hand. And this was just a generation ago! Who cared then about a passport as a solid and valid ID which allowed one to travel abroad or operate inside the country? Physical survival was the main issue on the national agenda.

The soviet collapse was like a startling clap of thunder from above which made the entire country feel scared and uncertain. The extant rigid communist ideology gone to smithereens, borders of the devastated motherland tailored and retailored, jobs lost en-masse, education at a standstill, the economy in a shambles, political stalemate, territorial integrity gone, and hope for the future non-existent.

Thoughts about our affiliation with rich and famous European nations and the visa liberalization between the highbrow continent and the hardly-breathing dilapidated former soviet republic would have been considered pure political delirium. But behold, we’re almost there! Moreover, we’re keeping our sharp eye on Euro-Atlantic integration, and our chance to somehow jump into Western circles shows some sign of life.

The West has become so considerate to Georgia in general that we have all of a sudden found ourselves on every possible slate of aspirants for almost every European international body. Americans are following suit, too, entertaining the surprising enthusiasm to help Georgia in every possible way with pronounced benevolence towards our people. We are starting to get the impression that Uncle Sam has adopted us for prolonged fostering.

Anyways, visa-free European travel is almost here, and the future itinerants are getting ready for incipient peregrinations around Europe. The formally confirmed political part of the deal is at hand, only the actual punching of Georgian passports at border check-points is left to be witnessed. And we can’t wait!

Incidentally, ominous warning has sounded from the mouths of Georgian and European civil servants thereof that free travel to Europe does not mean making money there, or staying overtime in search of employment. It was also emphasized that law-breakers would immediately be deported back to their country of origin and punished in a relevant fashion. Well, this sounds quite lawful, but what if the increasing number of travelers quickly begin using their visa freedom to improve their lifestyles a bit? How feasible would it be to cope with the new situation which is almost certain to materialize? Hopefully, the respective governmental offices had all those developments in mind when they made decisions in favor of the alleviated trips between the recently enumerated thirty European countries and Georgia.

The desire of improved living never weakens in humans. It stays alive as long as life goes on, people striving to elevate their standard of living by any means. This is why they will definitely be thinking about ways around the law. If well-developed Europe becomes readily accessible to Georgian citizens, the light at the end of the tunnel for them will start flickering. And if so, then the migration problems will appear hard and fast.

Don’t get me wrong – I’m not saying that the visa should not be liberalized. I’m just trying to raise the question as to whether Georgia and Europe are truly ready should something unexpected happen in the new travel circumstances. My doubts in no way go beyond this simple question. What if the new-time travelers desire to stay in the European countries? Is the Georgian government, in cooperation with European authorities, going to hunt down each and every one and put them on the plane at the expense of the government? Will we have that much time and money to fight the newly born pattern of law-breaking in the upcoming years? The question sounds a little worrying, doesn’t it?

Nugzar B. Ruhadze

17 March 2016 19:17