255,429 Georgians Travel Visa-free to EU
By Vladimer Napetvaridze
Tuesday, July 31
On 30 July, Tamar Khulordava, Chairperson of the Committee on European Integration, discussed the statistics of Georgian citizens EU visits. She stated that the recent data shows that the number of Georgian citizens seeking asylum in the EU states is substantially decreasing.
In February 2018, the issue of asylum seeker Georgian citizens became acute after three countries - Germany, France, and Sweden, expressed their concern, adding that crime committed by Georgians has also increased. Suspending Georgia’s visa-free regime with the European Union was also discussed.
According to the statistical data published by the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Germany in September 2017, 238 citizens of Georgia demanded asylum in Germany, adding that, this number significantly increased: In October, the number of asylum seekers was 355, in November - 444, in December - 522 and in January 2018 – 745.
However, after February 2018, Georgia deepened cooperation with the EU law enforcement agencies and carried out a large-scale information campaign in the country. According to Khulordava, these measures have a positive impact, and the number of asylum seekers from Georgia has decreased during the last months: "The Readmission Agreement is working properly. Due to this, why we have no problem with cooperation with our European partners. They see that the state is doing everything to prevent violations of visa liberalization terms. The implementation of the readmission agreement is a part of this process. We fulfill all the requests and suggestions according to the agreement. Unfortunately, there are many Georgians who violate the terms of the visa-free agreement, and we have to return them. Our measures are seen and appreciated by our partners.”
According to Khulordava, the role of police cooperation is essential in this process.
"In this regard, the Ministry of Internal Affairs is very active. Georgian police attachés are working in several countries. We already them working in 13 countries. Also, we have an ongoing negotiation to send our representatives to other countries. Starting September 1, we will have a special representative at the headquarters of Europol, which will serve as a police attaché to the Netherlands, "- said Tamar Khulordava.
Tamar Khulordava, Chairperson of the Committee on European Integration, stated that 255,429 Georgians have 360 000 presents used visa-free travel with the European Union since it came into force on March 28, 2017, and only 1,5% of these citizens, who violated the terms of visa-free travel were rejected to enter the EU zone.
The Readmission Agreement between Georgia and the EU entered into force on March 1, 2011. Following April 26, 2011, President's Decree, Ministry of Internal Affairs of Georgia is s a competent authority for the implementation of the agreement. Ministries of Foreign Affairs, Justice and Internally Displaced Persons from the Occupied Territories, Accommodation and Refugees are tasked to provide necessary assistance to the competent authority when such need arises. As for the visa-free regime with the EU, it took effect on March 28, 2017, meaning all Georgians holding biometric passports can now enter the Schengen Zone for 90 days within any 180-day period for vacation, business, or any other purpose except work.