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3,000 fail to return after use of Georgia-EU visa-free opportunity

By Messenger Staff
Wednesday, July 26
Georgia’s Deputy Interior Minister, Shalva Khutsishvili, says that 55,000 Georgian citizens have taken advantage of the Georgia-EU visa-free regime since its activation on March 28, 2017.

“However, 3,000 people have not returned back after the expiration of the 90-day period,” Khutsishvili told the IPN news agency, saying this may not necessarily mean that the people violated an agreement rule.

Khutsishvili stated that some of the people who have not returned and have been identified by the Ministry, may travel to other countries with whom Georgia also have a visa-free regime.

“There are possibilities that from the EU nations they left for Turkey, Ukraine, or Belarus. Thus, we cannot definitely say now that all of the 3,000 violated the law,” Khutsishvili stated.

The Deputy Minister announced that after the Georgia-EU visa liberation came into play, a large number of Georgians traveled to countries Georgia has direct flights to or a large diaspora, such as Germany, France, Poland, Greece and several others.

Based on regulations, Georgian citizens holding biometric passports can travel to the Schengen Zone for a period of 90 days within any 180-day period for purposes other than working.

The new measures will trigger an alarm system if a Georgian citizen overstays the 90-day limit and will inform the relevant European authorities.

The fact that only 3,000 have not returned yet from the 55,000 means that the majority of travelling Georgians did not violate the rules.

It is very important that the relevant bodies identify the people who failed to come back and take measures to forcibly return them, as if not this may encourage others to do the same in the future.

As unemployment is high in Georgia, some will definitely try to use the opportunity to stay in other countries.

Any person attempting to violate the rule, shall add to a bigger risk of having the privilege of visa free regime temporarily revoked. It is important to keep the number of violations to minimum so that the EU’s suspension mechanism shall not come into effect, and Georgia shall not lose the opportunity it tried so hard to gain.