Georgia in the EU
By Tea Mariamidze
Friday, March 10
The Official Journal of the European Union published the regulation of the European Parliament and the EU Council on visa liberalization for Georgians on March 8.
The regulation will enter into force 20 days after its publication, which means that from March 20 biometric passport holders will be able to travel to the Schengen area without visas for a period of 90 days within any 180-day time period for purposes other than working.
Visa-free travel applies to 22 EU member states (excluding Ireland, the United Kingdom, Croatia, Cyprus, Romania and Bulgaria) in addition to Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, and Switzerland.
The EU-Georgia Visa Liberalization Dialogue was launched on June 4 2012, and the Visa Liberalization Action Plan (VLAP) was presented to the Georgian authorities on February 25, 2013.
The European Parliament voted in favor of visa-free travel for Georgian citizens to the Schengen Area at a plenary session on February 2nd.
The regulation was signed on March 1st in Brussels by the President of the European Parliament, Antonio Tajani, and the Parliamentary Secretary of Malta, EU Council Presidency holder country, Chris Agius.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) of Georgia commented on the publishing of the regulation on the Georgia-EU visa-free travel by the European Council, saying according to the 539/2001 regulation amendment, Georgia has been put on the list of countries able to enjoy visa-free travel within the EU.
“We congratulate every citizen of Georgia on this important decision. We are glad to see that the Georgian government’s efforts in terms of reforms have resulted in a tangible benefit for Georgia’s population,” the MFA stated.
The ministry also said the visa-free travel will provide Georgia’s citizens with new opportunities, such as traveling in EU countries without obstacles, becoming acquainted with these countries and their cultures, and establishing new contacts.
“All benefits of visa-free travel will also be available for our citizens living on the occupied territories,” the MFA’s statement reads.