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EU outlines new visa arrangements for Georgia

By Messenger Staff
Thursday, October 28
European Union entry visas will become more readily available to the citizens of Georgia, enabling easier travel to the EU, under new proposals backed by the European Parliament Civil Liberties Committee. MEPs also supported an agreement with Georgia on irregular immigrants and their re-admission. A vote will be taken on these planned measures at the November plenary session in Brussels, according to the European Parliament's press service.

Georgian nationals wishing to acquire a visa will find the documents required will be simplified by the visa accord with Georgia. After applying for a visa, applicants will wait only ten days for an answer and the fee will be reduced to 35 Euros. In some instances, there will be no visa requirement. For example, students, journalists and those involved in cultural, artistic, scientific or sporting events will all be able to travel without a visa.

According to the EP, The Civil Liberties Committee approved the agreement on the basis of a report by Nathalie Griesbeck (ALDE, FR) which was adopted overwhelmingly, with only one vote against. A second report by the same MEP, approved by 42 votes to 6, backs a separate agreement on the readmission of irregular immigrants. On the basis of complete reciprocity, Georgia and the EU will have to take back any of their nationals who are in an irregular situation as well as nationals of third countries and stateless persons where it is proved that the person holds a visa for the signatory state or has resided or transited through that state. The two agreements will enter into force a month after ratification by both parties.

The visa facilitation agreement applies to all EU-member states, except the UK and Denmark, according to the Georgian Foreign Ministry while the readmission treaty according to the EP’s Committee on Foreign Affairs applies to all countries except Ireland and Denmark, whereas the UK has expressed its wish to be a party to the agreement. The two agreements will enter into force a month after ratification by both parties - the European and Georgian Parliaments. “The agreement between the sides will be adopted in several days but the technical-bureaucratic procedures [for implementing the changes] will take particular time”, Davit Darchiashvili, the Chairman of the Committee on European Integration told the media.

The European Union, according to political analyst Ramaz Sakvarelidze, has been refraining from widening the organization with new full members so it tries to keep in touch with the post-Soviet countries (including Georgia) by offering them different forms of partnership. “European Union is avoiding the complications concerning the various political-economical misbalances among its full member countries and this step is absolutely logical. Our aim is to find a warm place under the sun - this time the EU, one of the largest political-economical organizations in the world,” Sakvarelidze told The Messenger.

Welcoming the facilitation of the visa regime with EU member countries, the analyst revealed the possible complications which Georgia may face. “If the Government of Georgia won’t regulate the internal economical policy and ensure the citizens with relevant social welfare, the rate of migration to Europe will increase,” Sakvarelidze said, stressing that people living in hard conditions are always likely to move to foreign countries where they think they can improve their lives.