Minister of Justice Thea Tsulukiani denied speculations that the new restrictive visa rules will significantly obstruct the free movement of visitors in the country.
New visa regime strongly opposed by UNM
By Mariam Mchedlidze
Thursday, August 28
The minister stressed that the country’s leadership is working to regulate migration policy.
“Foreigners will be able to freely come to Georgia if they are tourists, if they are the citizens of the 89 states that enjoy visa-free regime with Georgia. We have adopted 5 different types of visas for foreigners,” Tsulikiani stated.
Chairman of Parliament’s Defense and Security Committee Irakli Sesiashvili stressed that amendments regarding visas will concern African and Arab countries mainly, as in many cases civilians from those countries used Georgia as a transit corridor.
He stated that the signing of the Association Agreement with the EU is followed by visa-liberation.
“There was a risk of using the visa-free regime with Georgia to move to Europe. Unfortunately, Georgia has not had clear visa rules and the fact enabled some nationals to use the country as a corridor to move to Europe. Maintaining the previous model might have created problems both for Georgia and Europe,” Sesiashvili said.
The United National Movement opposes the new visa regime. The party is unanimous that the new regulations are strict and will affect Georgia’s economic and tourism industry.
According to analyst Mamuka Areshidze, setting the new rules was a very important decision. However, the analyst admits that the changes might hinder the development of the country’s economic segment.
“The government should ensure the amendments do not cause problems for Iraq’s Yazidis and Christians,” the analyst said.
Visa-free travel to Georgia was abolished for 24 countries and is still in force for 94. The list of countries with a visa-free regime with Georgia is available on the web-page of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs at mfa.gov.ge.
According to the new law, the stay duration for visitors was reduced from 360 days to 90. Before the amendment, visitors from 118 countries were able to remain in Georgia for 360 days without a visa.
Entrance visas on the border will be given out only in special occasions set by the Georgian government.