First Georgians Travel to EU without Visas

TBILISI – Georgia’s Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili, cabinet members, successful Georgian students, scholars and media representatives were the first Georgians who enjoyed visa-free travel to the European Union. They travelled to Greece without visas on March 28, the day when the visa-free regime began.

Kvirikashvili, a holder of a Georgian biometric passport, as well as other Georgian passengers, passed the border control checkpoint at Shota Rustaveli Tbilisi International Airport.

"This is a regular Georgian passport of a Georgian citizen that I use to travel to Europe… It is a historic day—visa-free travel in the EU/Schengen Area is finally open to Georgian citizens… We are headed to Athens, an ancient cultural capital of Europe, where we will hold a meeting at a university and have a number of political meetings. In the afternoon, we will travel to Brussels, Europe's political capital, to celebrate this great achievement… I congratulate all of you on this historic holiday," the Prime Minister told the press before boarding the plane.

Nika Markozashvili, a resident of the border village of Ditsi, was also among the first visa-free travelers. “EU visa liberalization is equally important to those living across the dividing line, because they are part of our state. I believe that they, too, should use this opportunity, and I hope that it will be another precondition for our unification,” he said.

Tbilisi State University student Tamar Mirianashvili said it was her first visit to the EU. “I would have never imagined that my first visit to the EU would coincide with this historic event: the beginning of visa-free travel. I am excited to join the Prime Minister in this historic visit,” she said.

 According to the Prime Minister's Press Office, the Georgian delegation consists of Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Education and Science Alexandre Jejelava; Foreign Minister Mikheil Janelidze; State Minister on European and Euro-Atlantic Integration Victor Dolidze; Chair of Parliamentary Committee for European Integration Tamar Khulordava; Chair of the Committee for Foreign Relations Sopio Katsarava; Rector of Tbilisi State University Gia Sharvashidze; associate Professor Irina Darchia (Department of Classical Philology at the Institute for Modern Greek Studies); Archeologist Davit Lortkipanidze (Director General at the Georgian National Museum); Associate Professor Levan Gigineishvili (PhD in Philology from Ilia State University); author Zurab Karumidze; IDU (International Education Center) scholarship holders; Startup Georgia beneficiaries; successful new Greek studies and classical philology students from the Humanities Department at Tbilisi State University; young people financed under the Produce in Georgia program; successful IDP students from Georgia's occupied territories; socially vulnerable students; and ethnic minority students.


By Thea Morrison

28 March 2017 13:10