On 1 February 2018, legislative and regulatory changes will enter into force, that would allow those individuals who
- were born and resided in Abkhazia and Tskhinvali region/South Ossetia before 21 December 2001,
- and who did not receive the citizenship of any other country since,
- as well as their descendants,
to claim the Georgian citizenship through a simplified procedure. Importantly, the Georgian authorities would consider the documents issued by Sokhumi and Tskhinvali as a proof of identity.
Speaking at the press conference on January 18, Prime Minister Mamuka Bakhtadze said the changes would allow “all of our compatriots to equally make use of our great achievement – visa free travel to Europe”.
In a subsequent press-conference, State Minister for Reconciliation Ketevan Tsikhelashvili, whose office has initiated the changes, clarified that citizenship claim would be considered within one month, and the service would be offered free of charge. In cases, when the applicant’s identity documents (such as birth certificates) are already in the national database, the application can be filed through an international organization accredited in Georgia, without the need to travel in person, State Minister staid.
“We have fulfilled our promise and made a very important step towards offering a tangible benefit to the residents of the occupied territories, on par with other citizens of Georgia,” Tsikhelashvili said.
The government has pledged to ease citizenship procedures for persons living in two occupied regions through A Step to a Better Future – a policy document outlining governments’ vision towards reconciliation.
Since, the Ministry for Reconciliation has submitted, and the Parliament has passed series of legislative changes, most importantly pertaining to the Law on Citizenship which has defined the legal right of the residents of the two provinces to seek citizenship, and to the Law on Occupation which has authorized the relevant Georgian agencies to use the documents issued in Tskhinvali and Sokhumi to confirm identity of the applicants.