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Gov’t Announces Tougher Regulations to Retain Visa free with EU

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Monday, February 12
(TBILISI)--The Government of Georgia has announced the introduction of tougher regulations to prevent violating the Georgia-EU visa liberalization rules, as one of the German regions has already asked for the rejection of the Georgia-EU visa free regime achieved last year.

The Nordrhein-Westfalen region of Germany has complained about the increased number of Georgian asylum seekers and initiated the abolishment of the visa free travel for Georgians in the Schengen zone for 90 days in any 180-day period.

The Georgian media reports that Italy may also soon raise the same initiative, as a big number of Georgians violate the visa free rule and stay illegally in the EU member states.

Following the media reports the Government of Georgia has held an extraordinary meeting, stating that the country will make regulations tougher to prevent the violation of the visa agreement rules.

The government has voiced about two changes which envisaged shifting of the whole readmission burden and expenses onto those Georgian citizens who would violate the visa free rules and complicating the change of surnames.

Some Georgians who had been deported for violating the visa rules used to change their surnames to still benefit from the Georgia-EU visa free travel, as a deported is not allowed in the Schengen zone for several years.

“The Government of Georgia pays attention to the concerns of its partner states and plans to take important steps in terms of enforcing tougher legislation, intensifying cooperation with them, and conducting an active information campaign throughout the country," the Government press office stated.

The Government stated that other planned amendments will become known to public at this week governmental meeting.

The Georgian Justice and Foreign Ministers who participated in the extraordinary meeting, stated that Georgia must preserve the “long-awaited” visa free opportunity with the EU.

The official data of the Ministry of Internal Affairs reads that between March 28 and November 2, 2017 in total 165,059 Georgians travelled visa free to the Schengen zone.

Since the activation of visa free travel with the EU on March 28 last year, 379 Georgian citizens were refused to travel to several nations of the EU.

Allegedly 10,330 people violated the 90-day term of the visa free travel.

Most of those using the visa free opportunity travelled to Germany, Greece and Italy.