Georgian People Throng Schengen Zone after EU Pact

After the EU Visa-Free agreement with Georgia was activated at the end of March 2017, around 87,000 Georgian citizens entered the Schengen zone, out of which 226 people were prohibited from entering the EU territory for various reasons.  This was reported by the head of the parliamentary committee for European integration, Tamar Khulordava.

“This is a good indicator, and it shows that the European Union does not put any artificial barriers to the citizens of Georgia. According to our information, the cases when people were not allowed to enter Europe had a legitimate reason, mostly due to incorrect documentation, or due to violations that close access to the EU for some time, “she said. According to the Georgian side, these data refer to the border crossing by air and does not take into account the land borders, where Georgian citizens, supposedly, went to Greece via Turkey by land.

However, Georgian government does not have an account of how many of its citizens violated the scheme and did not return back. However, earlier Deputy Interior Minister of Georgia Shalva Khutsishvili noted that according to the data for 3.5 months after the visa-free regime with the EU was activated, out of 55,000 Georgian citizens who managed to use it, around 3,000 people did not return within 90 days, thus violating the conditions of visa-free stay in the Schengen zone.

“Perhaps many people might have been to Ukraine, Belarus or Turkey. Unequivocally, we can not say that they violated the 90-day visa-free regime, but we have kept these people into a potential risk group and monitor their movements like which regions they left from, who they are, what are their connections, what their potential interests etc. Overall, there was no big risk, as the majority of people came back.

The European Union introduced a visa-free regime for Georgian citizens on March 28, 2017, where Tourist, Business Travellers and Guest could visit the countries of the Schengen zone for 90 days out of 180 days. To travel to the EU, citizens of Georgia need a biometric passport, hotel reservation or the address of their friends, where they plan to live, besides medical insurance, proof of finance and a return ticket. Despite the positive comments of the law enforcement agencies of the country, Georgian experts are sounding the alarm, arguing that in recent years an efficient part of the population is leaving Georgia en-mass, because of which the population is decreasing annually. According to experts, there is no other way to stop the flow of emigration, apart from creating jobs, especially now, when a visa-free regime has entered into force between Georgia and the EU.