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One Year Passes from the Georgia-EU Visa free Deal

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Wednesday, March 28
(TBILISI)--One year has passed from the Georgia-EU visa free deal which enables Georgians citizens travel without visas to the EU’s visa free Schengen Zone.

The Georgian Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili said on Tuesday that this “historic decision” would not have been possible without the “consistent steps” made by the government of Georgia, but it has also depended on the European choice of the Georgian people.

“This is why we are all so proud today. Georgia has made it possible for its citizens to freely travel across the EU/Schengen Zone. This is not only a visa-free travel opportunity, but it is also a huge political step from the EU and our partners towards Georgia and an expression of trust”, Kvirikashvili said.

The yesterday’s statistics of Georgia’s Interior Ministry reads that 192, 453 Georgian citizens have visited the Schengen Zone 258, 663 times since March 28, 2017.

Deputy Interior Minister Nino Javakhadze stated that in total 1,001 Georgians were refused to enter the EU passport-free zone.

The ministry had no information about the number of the Georgians who violated the visa-free term, 90 days in any 180-day period.

“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,” Javakhadze said.

The deputy minister stated that the government of Georgia was taking steps to prevent Georgians’ illegal stay in the EU and support the decrease of the Georgian asylum seekers in Europe.

Javakhadze said that those who asked for asylum in Europe named the family reunion or health condition as their motivation.

Georgia has a serious image problem in Europe, the United National Movement opposition member Salome Samadashvili stated.

She claimed that the government of Georgia failed to control situation in the country and cope with “criminal groups” committing crimes inside and outside the country.

She also stated that the Georgian Dream leadership spent more for a “channel making Russian propaganda” than for raising the people’s awareness about European values.

Responding to this, majority says that the opposition is trying to shade the benefits of the visa liberalization, as well as the merit of the current state leadership.

The regulation lifting visa requirements for Georgians entered into effect on March 28, 2017.

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.

Earlier this month the government of Georgia announced changes to the law that will introduce sanctions for the Georgian citizens violating the Georgia-EU visa free terms.

The changes will make it complicated for Georgian citizens to change surnames, used for reentering the EU, and illegal migrants will have to cover readmission expenses.