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French Interior Minister: number of Georgian asylum seekers is anomalous

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Monday, May 13
French Interior Minister Christophe Castaner, who visited Georgia on May 10, said that hundreds of Georgians are seeking asylum in France, and the figures are anomalous when Georgia is regarded a safe country, with no war on its territories.

He stated during a press conference with Georgian Interior Minister Giorgi Gakharia that asylum seekers are a 'headache' for his country, and Georgia and France are taking and should take all necessary steps to decrease the figures.

Gakharia stated that the government of Georgia has already adopted 'tough regulations,' which concern the restrictions on the change of surnames and readmission expenses [the deported ones will have to cover their flight expenses and not the government] and announced about an additional change.

“French migration officers will come to Georgia and will check the people flying from Georgia to France, together with Georgian migration officers. Georgian migration officers will also be sent to France to do the same. The step aims to prevent illegal migration,” Gakharia said.

He stated that the measures are mandatory to protect 'one of the biggest achievements of Georgia,' the EU-Georgia visa-free deal signed in March 2017, which allows Georgian nationals travel visa-free to the EU’s Schengen Zone for 90 days in any 150 days.

Gakharia said that the deal 'is not under any risk' for now. However, 'we should do our utmost to prevent any negative consequence.'

If the number of illegal Georgian migrants, who will appear in the EU with the help of the visa waiver, significantly increase, Georgia may lose the travel opportunity, which is only for traveling purposes and not for staying and living.

Georgian Justice Minister Thea Tsulukiani met with the European Commission official for Migration and Home Affairs Simon Mordue last month when she said that the EU-Georgia visa waiver 'has faced particular difficulties recently.'

“This is the reality and our partners from the EU are saying that many of our citizens misuse the opportunity,” Tsulukiani said.

She said that for 2020, the passport of the Georgian citizen would come in full line with European standards which will prevent Georgians from illegally crossing the border of an EU-member state.

French ambassador Pascal Meunier stated that Georgians are asking for political asylum in France, when 'actually they have economic motivations.'

“Georgia is on the list of safe countries [meaning that no one is politically prosecuted in Georgia and no one will receive a political asylum] in France, and nobody who applies for political asylum in France will receive [it],” Meunier said.

Meunier stated that the number of Georgian asylum seekers in France increased after the enactment of the Georgia-EU visa-free deal.

He said that in December 2017, 1,000 Georgian citizens asked for political asylum in France, while the figures in previous months were up to 200.