By Messenger Staff
Thursday, March 2President of Georgia Giorgi Margvelashvili believes the country has achieved “rightful success” in the granting of visa free travel to Georgia in the Schengen area of the EU from the spring.
The President stressed this was a step forward, but not the final result on the path towards Europe.
“This is a new possibility to establish a closer partnership with the EU. The decision re-confirms that Georgia’s European choice is irreversible and the EU has confidence in Georgia as a reliable partner,” the President’s press speaker stated.
Only formal procedures are left until Georgians will be able to travel to Europe visa-free.
The regulation which was adopted by the Council of Europe was formally signed by the European Parliament President and a representative of the EU Council Presidency, currently held by Malta, on March 1.
The decision will be published in several days' time in the EU’s official journal, while 20 days later, Georgians with biometric passports will be able to travel to the Schengen states for a period of 90 days within any 180-day time period for any purpose other than working or studying.
Despite this achievement, Georgia must not forget that the adoption of the suspension mechanism was a precondition for the Georgia-EU visa waiver.
Under the new rules, in certain situations the visa waiver deals of developing countries with the EU may be suspended, in which case their citizens would need to apply for a visa to enter the EU.
The suspension mechanism relates to one or more of the following cases: a substantial increase in the number of nationals of that country are refused entry to or stay irregularly in EU territory; a substantial increase in unfounded asylum applications; a decrease in cooperation on readmissions (returns of migrants); or an increase in risks or imminent threats to public policy or internal security related to nationals of the third country concerned.
There is a risk that many Georgians will try and leave for Europe from the end of March, as the current economic situation in Georgia is far from satisfactory.
The government should work very actively on an information campaign to decrease the risk of Georgia having its visa-free travel suspended.