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Foreign Minister Confirms ‘Some Questions’ on Georgia-EU Visa Waiver

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Tuesday, February 20
(TBILISI) - Georgian Foreign Minister Mikheil Janelidze stated that for now, the suspension mechanism, envisaging rejection of the visa free travel in the EU’s Schengen Zone, will not apply Georgia, however, “some questions” arise.

The minister stated that these questions are present due to the increasing number of those Georgians who violate the Georgia-EU visa free deal and illegally stay in some of the EU countries.

The minister confirmed that many who violated the 90-day period provided through the Georgia-EU visa liberalization deal, illegally stayed in Germany.

Janelidze told the local media that many of his recent meetings in Germany were dedicated to the visa issue and stated that soon Germany may list Georgia as a safe country.

The safe country status meant that Germany recognizes Georgia’s democratic achievements and states that no one in the country is politically prosecuted.

Receiving the status by Georgia automatically excludes refugee status for the country’s citizens in Germany.

“There are a number of requests for asylum in the EU. People are seeking asylum in a wrong, unreasonable way. The request for asylum is satisfied only if an individual is pursued in his/her country due to political pressure, restriction of political freedom and violations of human rights. Consequently, this requirement is often illegitimate and is not satisfied,” Janelidze stated.

The minister provided the statistics and announced that as Georgia was granted the visa free opportunity, since March 2017, 220,000 people have travelled to the Schengen Zone.

“This is really a great success, a great opportunity. These visits mainly served tourism goals, deepening of business relationships and cultural connections, or other short-term visits,” Janelidze said.

The official data reads that more than 10,000 people have violated the visa-free terms.

Georgia was granted the right to have the visa-free regime with the EU, referring to the right for Georgian national to stay in the Schengen zone for 90 days in any 180-day period, only after the EU agreed on the suspension mechanism.

The mechanism means that in certain situations the visa waiver deal with the EU may be suspended for a country, in which case the country’s citizens will 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 application; 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.