EU’s Avramopoulos in Tbilisi to Support Georgians’ Visa-Free Regime

TBILISI - EU Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship, Dimitris Avramopoulos, visited Tbilisi at the weekend to meet with Georgian Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirilashvili and other local officials to discuss the European Union’s planned visa-free regime for Georgian citizens.

Avramopoulos reiterated that Georgia is an ideal example for other countries in the region that hope to apply in the future for EU visa liberalization.

"I am looking forward to the moment when Georgia citizens will be able to enjoy the benefits of visa-free travel to the Schengen countries. Georgia deserves this monumental achievement," Avramopoulos said at a press conference following his meeting with Georgian officials.

Avramopoulos said he hopes the European Parliament will support the EU Commission's proposal and enact its recommendations as soon as possible.

“Once the decision is approved, Georgia citizens with biometric passports will not need to apply for a visa for 90 days of travel. I would like to emphasize, however, that the European Union does not envisage the right of employment as a part of the current visa liberalization process," he said.

Related coverage: Visa Free Travel with EU: Green Light to Georgia, but not for Unlimited Travel

Kvirikasvili thanked Avramopoulos for his support and personal effort during the EU-Georgia visa liberalization negotiations.

Avramopoulos took time to have a face-to-face meeting with Georgian Orthodox Church leader, Patriarch Ilia II, on Saturday.

"We have a great desire to see Georgia as a member of Europe's democratic family. We are grateful for what you done for Georgia; the country needs your help. The restoration of our territorial integrity remains a sensitive issue, as the status of Abkhazia and South Ossetia are an open wound and a painful problem", Ilia said.

Georgia expects its visa-free regime with the EU to come into force by June. The European Commission has already proposed to the Council of the European Union and the European Parliament to lift visa requirements for Georgian citizens within six months.

By Tamar Svanidze
Edited by Nicholas Waller

03 April 2016 18:58