Immigration: Georgian PM Denies Claims That Georgia May Be Deprived of Schengen Visa Liberalization

Immigration: Georgian PM Denies Claims That Georgia May Be Deprived of Schengen Visa Liberalization

Did immigration issues drive us to Brexit? What is the word on the streets right now?

Georgian PM Mamuka BakhtadzeJust a few weeks after the Georgian Justice Minister Tea Tsulukiani warned that visa-free travel with the Schengen zone is going through difficulties, the Georgian PM Mamuka Bakhtadze told to journalists that “it is groundless to say Georgia may be deprived of visa liberalization”.

During a press conference, when asked whether there was a real risk for Georgians to lose visa-free access to the 26 Schengen countries, he said that the speculations were untrue.

Of course, this is not true, like many other things. When we talk about visa liberalization, when we talk about the Association Agreement with Europe, it is not anybody’s achievement. This is an achievement of the Georgian state. We must take care of it and every citizen must feel responsibility when enjoying this very great benefit. Of course, the process is ongoing, and I want to once again reassure everyone that it is totally groundless to say that Georgia may be deprived of visa liberalization,” PM Bakhtadze said.

Only at the end of April, Georgian Justice Minister Tea Tsulukiani warned that the visa-free travel to the Schengen zone for Georgians “is recently going through some particular difficulties.”

Minister Tsulukiani made such remarks after a meeting with the Deputy Director-General for Migration and Home Affairs of the European Commission Simon Mordue. She asserted that some of the European countries are worrying that Georgians are “abusing the visa-free mechanism.”

Changes should be made so that those honest citizens, who are traveling to the Schengen zone and then coming back can continue to benefit from visa-free travel,” pointing out that the opportunity of visa-free travel is intended for tourist or other short-term purposes.

Minister Tsulukiani is not the first Georgian high official to point out that the Schengen countries are concerned with the number of Georgians seeking asylum in the Schengen countries. He had called the number of Georgian nationals seeking asylum in Schengen Countries “worrisome”.

Data shows that in 2018 alone, 17,980 Georgians sought asylum in the EU Member Countries, which makes 3% of the overall number of asylum seekers last year.

The Schengen members can suspend visa free-entry for a country through the Emergency Break, which is regulated through the EC Regulation 1289/2013. The Emergency Break permits the suspension of visa exemption for a third-country in specific occasions considered as “emergency situations”. The suspension can take place with a simple majority of votes by the European Commission.

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