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Georgia receives congratulations

By Tea Mariamidze
Wednesday, March 29
Georgian citizens received congratulations over the launch of visa liberalization with the European Union (EU), which went into force on March 28, enabling biometric passport-holding Georgians to travel visa-free to the Schengen area for 90 days in any 180-day period.

The Commissioner for European Neighborhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations, Johannes Hahn, was one of the first EU officials to congratulate Georgia on the historic day.

“Sincerest congratulations to Georgia and all its citizens for visa-free travel coming into effect today. Enjoy Europe!” Hahn posted on Twitter.

President of the Republic of Lithuania Dalia Grybauskaite also tweeted about Georgia’s success.

“Open road to Europe for Georgian people! Georgia, travel safe!” she wrote.

Linas Linkevicius, Lithuania’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, also congratulated Georgians, saying from now there is more Georgia in Europe and more Europe in Georgia.

“Dear Georgian friends, congratulations on the visa-free regime to the EU. Well-deserved and long-awaited,” he said in his video address to Georgians.

The EU Council also posted on their twitter account that Georgians travelling to the EU for a stay of 90 days in any 180-day period won't need visa from now on as a new regulation granting visa-free travel enters into force today.

Under the visa-free regime regulation, Georgians can travel without visas to 22 EU member states, namely Belgium, Austria, Germany, Denmark, Spain, Estonia, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, The Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Greece, France, Slovenia, Slovakia, Hungary, Finland, Sweden, and Czech Republic.

The new regime also includes four non-member states of the EU in the form of Iceland, Lichtenstein, Norway and Switzerland, and four Schengen candidate countries: Bulgaria, Cyprus, Romania and Croatia. The exceptions are Ireland and the United Kingdom.

However, Georgians will lose this freedom to travel if they suddenly start making numerous asylum requests, stay in the Schengen Zone for more than 90 days at a time, or cause an increase in the risk of public policy and internal security.

If such problems persist, the suspension can be extended up to 18 months, where the European Parliament will become involved and continue a more complex procedure.