Georgian Justice Minister Tea Tsulukiani believes visa-free travel to the Schengen zone “faces particular difficulties in recent times.”
Following her meeting with Simon Mordue, Deputy Director-General for Migration and Home Affairs of the European Commission yesterday, Tsulukiani said that European partners claim that “some of our citizens are abusing the visa-free mechanism.”
She also noted that “changes should be made so that of those honest citizens, who are traveling to the Schengen zone and then coming back can continue to benefit from visa-free travel.”
“This [visa-free regime] does not confer the right to live [permanently in Europe] or to overstay visa and seek work. This unique opportunity of visa-free travel is intended for tourist or other short-term purposes,” the Georgian Justice Minister explained, adding that “we should do our utmost to maintain visa-free regime for our young people.”
Tsulukiani also noted that a part of legislative amendments has been implemented to this end and the Parliament of Georgia is also discussing the draft which – if adopted – would make aiding illegal migration a criminal offense.
Later on the same day, Simon Mordue met Foreign Minister Davit Zalkaliani who said a number of EU member states have already expressed their concerns over the increased number of asylum seekers from Georgia.
Zalkaliani stated that during the meeting with the EU representatives, they discussed the ways “to minimize and reduce the facts of misuse of visa liberalization by Georgian citizens.”
“We have very important proposals, an action plan and I hope that our joint efforts will prove successful and the enforcement of visa suspension mechanism will not be necessary,” Minister Zalkaliani added.
According to the European Commission’s report for 2018, Georgian authorities reported that between March 28, 2017 and September 1, 2018 around 291,943 Georgian nationals enjoyed the visa free travel to the Schengen area.