Georgians to enjoy visa-free access to Schengen area, Russia

By bne IntelliNews December 21, 2015

The European Commission (EC) deems that Georgia has fulfilled the requirements for a visa liberalisation scheme and will propose that Georgian citizens receive visa-free access to the Schengen area in "early 2016", according to a December 18 report.

The EU presented a Visa Liberalisation Action Plan (VLAP) to Georgia in February 2013, and there have been four rounds of progress reports on Georgia's compliance with the requirements outlined in the plan. After the EC puts forward the proposal to scrap visas for Georgians, the European Parliament would vote on it. The policy would grant Georgian citizens 90 day visa-free access to Schengen countries for tourism purposes.

"I am very pleased that Georgian citizens with a biometric passport will soon be able to travel to the Schengen area for short stays without a visa," the EU Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship Dimitris Avramopoulos said on December 18. "The hard work of the Georgian authorities over the past three years towards achieving this important goal for the benefit of Georgian citizens has given positive results. Now it is important to keep upholding all standards," he added.

In a press conference on December 17, Russian President Vladimir Putin said that his country was also "ready to cancel the visa regime" with Georgia, a statement that Georgian politicians like Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili welcomed. Georgia scrapped visa requirements for Russian citizens in 2011.

"This year, we further prolonged the period during which they [Russian citizens] can stay [without visas] in Georgia, because we are interested in having more tourists from Russia and to ease people-to-people contacts as much as possible,” Garibashvili told local media on December 17. 

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