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European Parliament backs Georgia’s visa waiver

By Tea Mariamidze
Friday, February 3
The European Parliament (EP) supported Georgia’s visa-liberalization with 553 votes for and 66 against on Thursday (38 abstained). The voting process was preceded by debates.

Now, after the completion of some technical procedures, biometric passport holder Georgians will be able to enter the European Union for 90 days within any 180-day period for a holiday, business or any other purpose, except working.

The visa waiver applies to the Schengen Area, which includes 22 EU member states (all except Ireland, the United Kingdom, Croatia, Cyprus, Romania and Bulgaria) in addition to Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland.

Georgian leaders and officials congratulated the population on the occasion.

“This is a truly historic day! I wish to express my thanks to the European Parliament for granting visa-free travel to the citizens of Georgia,” Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili tweeted.

President of Georgia Giorgi Margvelashvili also congratulated Georgians on the important event.

“Important step towards EU! Congratulations to Georgian People. Thanks to European Parliament and everyone involved,” the President’s post reads.

Georgia’s Foreign Minister, Mihkeil Janelidze, held a press-conference immediately after the decision was declared.

He said that the positive outcome was the result of the government’s hard work and efforts.

“We saw the firm support of EU towards Georgia’s Euro-integration process. I congratulate our citizens on this significant progress,” Janelidze said.

The European Parliament and the Council of Europe reached a political agreement over Georgia’s visa liberalization with the EU on December 13, 2016.

The political agreement came after the trialogue of the European Parliament, European Council and European Commission in Brussels, Belgium. This was the first tripartite meeting on Georgia’s visa liberalization involving all the European Union (EU) structures.

Later the EU Council Committee of Permanent Representatives of the Governments of Member States to the EU (Coreper) approved the amendments to the text of Georgia’s visa liberalization agreed and adopted by the EU Commission, EU Parliament and Council.

After this, European Parliament Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs Committee (LIBE) also approved the amendments to the text on January 12, 2017.

Now, after the final approval of European Parliament, the regulations will be published in the official journal of the EU.

Visa-free travel will be granted to Georgia upon entry into force of the amended suspension mechanism regulation.