Georgians Could Travel to the EU Visa-Free from Next Year

Georgian residents could travel to Schengen countries visa-free with ordinary passports by late 2015 or early 2016, announced Georgia’s Foreign Minister Maia Panjikidze after a briefing with British Foreign Secretary William Hague on May 8th.

Twenty-two of the 28 European Union member states and all four European Free Trade Association (EFTA) members participate in the Schengen area. Georgia is currently undergoing the Visa Liberalization Action Plan (VLAP). This process is divided into two parts – legislation and implementation. Panjikidze emphasized the legislative part would be completed before the summer holidays. Once that was completed, the next phase would begin.

“The implementation stage of the VLAP will begin after the summer and it will probably continue for a year or a little more,” she said.

“Therefore, it is quite an optimistic estimate that visa-free travel will become possible to the European Union by late 2015 or early 2016,” Panjikidze said.

The VLAP was handed to the Georgian Government in February 2013. If Georgia successfully implemented the plan, the EU could decide to grant Georgian citizens the opportunity to travel without a visa to Schengen countries. The EU and Georgia began negotiations to establish a visa-free regime for Georgian citizens when the previous government was in power. However the country only received the Action Plan from the EU at the end of last year.

EU citizens are allowed to enter Georgia without a visa.

Source: geotimes.ge

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