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Georgians celebrate visa liberalization with EU

By Tea Mariamidze
Tuesday, March 28
The “European spring” has come to Georgia this year, as from March 28 all biometric passport-holding Georgians will be able to travel to the Schengen area without visas.

Preparations are underway throughout the country, and various festivities have been arranged to mark this historic day.

Major celebrations were held on March 26-27 in Tbilisi. The renovated Agmashenebeli Avenue was decorated with the colors of the European Union (EU) flag. The avenue was turned into a "European Street”, and specially invited chefs cooked Georgian and European dishes to serve to visitors.

The Tbilisi TV Tower and the Bridge of Peace were illuminated in the EU flag colors, and Georgian and EU flags were projected onto the building of the Government Administration.

Games and different kinds of entertainment were also organized for children, who were able to enjoy thematic games, including one in which they were taught how to pack suitcases for traveling.

The Georgian and the EU flags were lit up on Europe Square followed by a gala concert at 9:10 pm on March 27. The concert ended with a large firework display.

The international airports of Tbilisi and Kutaisi also prepared for the event, with their buildings decorated with flowers and the EU and Georgian flags.

Ketevan Aleksidze, the Director of the Georgia’s Airports Union, says that special gifts and surprises are waiting for passengers on March 28.

She also added that due to the increased number of passengers, check-in desks as well as gates will be added in Kutaisi airport.

On March 28, Georgian Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili, cabinet members and some successful students will leave for Athens and then travel to Brussels to celebrate the historic day.

Visa liberalization means that all Georgians holding biometric passports will be able to enter the Schengen Area for 90 days within any 180-day period for vacation, business, or any other purpose except work.

Georgians will be able to travel without visas to the 22 EU member states of Belgium, Austria, Germany, Denmark, Spain, Estonia, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, The Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Greece, France, Slovenia, Slovakia, Hungary, Finland, Sweden, and Czech Republic.

The new regime also refers to four non-member states of the EU in the form of Iceland, Lichtenstein, Norway and Switzerland, and four Schengen candidate countries: Bulgaria, Cyprus, Romania and Croatia. However, Ireland and the United Kingdom will still require visas.