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Georgians’ visa-free travel from April

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Friday, December 16
European Parliamentarian Andrejs Mamikins has stated that Georgians would be able to benefit from visa-free travel in the European Union’s (EU) Schengen Zone from late April next year.

He stressed that only technical steps were left until Georgians will be able to enjoy visa liberalisation.

"Only technical issues are left. Apparently, the agreed text on Georgia will be approved on April 7, while on April 15 the decision may be published in the official publication of the European Union,” Mamikins told journalists in Brussels, Belgium.

“In late April, citizens of Georgia will be able to travel visa-free with biometric passports. As for the vote, it will be held in January or February. After that, the adopted text must be translated into 24 languages, which is expected to require 8 weeks,” he stressed.

Fellow European Parliamentarian Mariya Gabriel stressed that stretching the process up to April will not be fair.

"April is a long time to wait for the citizens of Georgia, as Georgia has already fulfilled its obligations, and now the EU has to fulfil its promise. The resolution of technical issues does not require 8 weeks. We will do our best to speed up the process," Gabriel stated.

However, Georgia’s Ambassador to the EU, Natalie Sabanadze, stated that the remaining procedures after the European Parliament and the Council of Europe reached a political deal on Georgia’s visa waiver on December 13 will requiree time.

The aim of the meeting between the European Parliament, Council and Commission on December 13 was to reach an agreement over the final text of amendments to the regulation on granting visa-free travel to Georgian citizens.

Georgia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs defined the follow-up procedures, which include the agreed edition of the new rules should now be approved by the Permanent Representatives Committee (COREPER) and the European Parliament’s Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE).

This will be followed by a vote at the European Parliament’s plenary session, after which the amended regulation will be formally approved by the EU Council at the level of Ministers.

Upon the signature of the legislative amendment by the President of the European Parliament and a representative of the country holding the EU presidency, the Regulation will be published in the official journal of the EU.

Visa-free travel will be granted to Georgia upon entry into force of the amended suspension mechanism regulation.

The European Union-Georgia visa liberalisation dialogue started in 2012. By the end of 2015, the European Commission had concluded that the country had met all its visa liberalisation obligations.

If Georgia obtains visa liberalisation, the citizens of the country will be able to enter the European Union visa-free for 90 days in any 180-day period, provided they hold a biometric passport.