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EU Commission Report Says Georgia Transit Hub for Illegal Goods Headed to EU

By Tea Mariamidze
Friday, December 22
(BRUSSELS)--The European Commission’s latest report published on December 20 sates that Georgia remains a major transit point for various illicit goods – including narcotics – trafficked to the EU.

According to the document, Georgia has been increasingly used by various Organized Criminal Groups (OCGs) to launder money into the EU.

The Commission’s report, which also includes reports about the Balkans - Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia - as well as Eastern Partnership countries Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine, states that since the last visa liberalization report, criminal groups from Georgia are some of the most active non-EU nationalities involved in organized crime in Europe.

The report informs that Georgian mafia groups are mainly involved in organized burglaries in France, Greece, Germany, Italy and Spain.

“These OCGs are particularly threatening to the EU because their activities are often dismissed as low intensity crime, their control of criminal markets is gradually increasing and they cooperate with other non-EU OCGs,” the report reads.

Despite its critical remarks, the report also says that Georgia has demonstrated its serious commitment to preventing and fighting organized crime, adding it has stepped up cooperation at the international level.

The report says that Georgia signed an Operational and Strategic Cooperation Agreement with the Europol in April, which entered into force in July.

The European Commission also gives statistics on Georgian travelers to the Schengen zone since the activation of a visa free regime in March 2016. According to the report, the number of asylum applications by Georgian nationals in the EU did not increase. Entry refusals decreased by 39% and illegal overstays dropped 3%, while asylum applications increased by 7.2%.

Moreover, the number of Georgian citizens ordered to leave decreased by 12% from 6,415 in 2015 to 5,635 in 2016, while the return rate increased from 45.13% in 2015 to 55.90% in 2016.

The EU Commission report shows that, whilst the visa liberalization requirements for the eight countries continue to be fulfilled, action is required in a number of specific areas to preserve their sustainable implementation.