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Georgia Offers Germany Inclusion in a Safe Country list

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Tuesday, February 27
(TBILISI) - The Government of Georgia has offered Germany to put Georgia in the “Safe Country List.” If Germany agrees, no one from Georgia will be granted the refugee status. The Georgian government believes that the step could decrease the number of Georgians asking for shelter in Germany after they violate the Georgia-EU visa free terms.

The Foreign Ministry of Georgia reported that Deputy Minister of Internal Affairs Nino Javakhadze visited Germany and Austria. She met with the Minister of Interior of North Westphalia, as well as officials in Austria, where she briefed the German officials over the changes the Georgian government is planning to suspend the outflow of Georgians to the EU through violating the visa free terms.

“The figures are growing as many leave for Europe after the Georgia-EU visa free deal, but they [the figures] are not alarming,“ the Foreign Ministry reported.

“We have not planned specific steps. We offered Germany to grant Georgia a status of a safe country. We already have achieved this with Austria," the Ministry representative added.

Georgia has activated talks on tough measures against those violating the Georgia-EU visa free deal, since one of the regions of Germany asked for the suspension of visa liberalization for Georgia.

The Government has not presented the planned changes yet. However, they say that readmission expenses will be paid by those who violate the visa free terms. The government will also make the change of surnames difficult, as after being deported some Georgians changed their surnames to travel to the EU again.

By granting the “Safe Country” status, Germany will recognize Georgia responds to democratic values and no one in the country is politically prosecuted. Consequently, the appeals for asylum by the Georgian citizens will be rejected.

The Georgian Foreign Minister Mikheil Janelidze said in his previous statement 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, 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 visa-free regime with the EU, referring to the right for Georgian citizens 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 citizens of that country are refused to enter 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 citizens of the third country concerned.