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German Gov’t Meets Request to Declare Georgia as Safe Country

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Monday, July 23
The government of Germany has approved a bill which initiates putting Georgia on the Safe Country List, meaning that no one from Georgia will receive asylum in the country if the draft law is finally supported by German lawmakers.

German Interior Ministry drafted the bill in response to the increased flow of Georgians to Germany after Georgia and the EU activated visa free travel in the Schengen Zone last March.

To avoid complications for the long-awaited visa waiver, Georgian government took measures to provide tougher sanctions for those violating the legal terms of stay in the EU.

As the flow to Germany was higher than in other EU-member states, Georgia asked the German government to become the eighth country on the Safe Country list.

Receiving the Safe Country status means that no one in the country is politically persecuted and the request for asylum due to any kind of human rights violation will be turned down.

The German government approved the bill last week and it has been sent to the German parliament for final voting, which is very likely to approve the initiative.

The Federal Office for Migration and Refugees of Germany says that 3,462 citizens of Georgia and 3,857 citizens of Armenia applied for asylum in Germany last year, and “only few of them” managed to have their requests satisfied.

The amendments offered by the Georgian government for the increased flow of Georgians to the EU include shifting the responsibility of readmission expenses onto Georgian citizens who violate the visa-free regulations, as well as complicating procedures for changing surnames.

Georgian citizens holding biometric passports can travel to the EU’s Schengen Zone for a period of 90 days within any 180-day period for purposes other than working. However, many have used the possibility stay long-term in the EU.

Within a year of the Georgia-EU visa free agreement, 192,453 Georgian citizens have visited the Schengen Zone 258,663 times, the Georgian Interior Ministry reported.

The ministry had no information on the exact number of Georgians who violated the visa-free terms.

“A citizen who arrived in one of the EU states with the use of the Georgia-EU visa-free deal, may then travel to Turkey, Mexico and elsewhere from the Schengen zone and stay there, even with the changed status,” the ministry representative stated.

The ministry stated in November 2017 that about 10,000 people violated the visa free terms.

Georgia is already regarded as a safe country by Austria, France, Belgium, Bulgaria, Island, Israel and Luxemburg.