9875 Georgians Violate Rules of Visa-free Regime with EU in 7 Months

Georgia’s Ministry for European and Euro-Atlantic Integration said that in the period of March 28 - October 20, 9875 Georgian citizens of a total 167,885 violated the rules of the visa-free regime with the European Union (EU) and did not come back to Georgia after the permitted maximum three-month stay in the Schengen Area.

Georgia's official agencies are unaware how many of the 9875 citizens stayed in the Schengen Area and how many moved to a third country in accordance with the visa-free rules.

The number of violators is around 6.1% of the total Georgians who visited the EU in the given period.

1278 citizens of Georgia above the age of 71 years and 4299 citizens under the age of 7 years enjoyed the visa-free regime in the Schengen Area in the past seven months.

The Ministry said that 4299 citizens aged 0-7, 8909 citizens aged 8-17, 19,489 citizens aged 18-25, 17,752 citizens aged 26-30, 28,597 people aged 31-40, 18,052 people aged 41-50, 11,836 citizens aged 51-60 and 5,164 citizens aged 61-70 traveled to the Schengen Area in the abovementioned period.

In addition, according to the data, 61,747 of the Georgian travelers to the EU were women and 53,587 were men.

The data also says that 324 citizens of Georgia have been refused entry the Schengen Area since the activation of the visa-free regime, sent back from the border of Italy – 60 Georgians, followed by Greece (56), Poland (53), Cyprus (49), Hungary (33 citizens), Germany (26), Lithuania (15), The Netherlands (12), Belgium (9), France (3), Sweden (3), Switzerland (2), Estonia (2) and Spain (1). According to the statistical data, most of the people who were sent back were men.

Archil Talakvadze, the leader of the Georgian Dream (GD) parliamentary majority, says that nothing threatens Georgia’s visa-liberalization regime with the EU and that risk management mechanisms were agreed in advance.

He called on the Georgians to observe the rules of visa-liberalization.

“Now that we have such a level of support from Europe and we can travel there without visas, the responsibility of each our citizens should be even higher. It is important to respect this trust and observe the rules envisaged by the visa-free regime,” he stated.

In case of violations such as staying in the EU longer than 90 days, the Georgian side will inform the relevant EU country, after which joint efforts will be made to return the offending citizens to Georgia. Along with deportation, people who violate the visa-free regime will have to pay a €3,000 fine and will be banned from entering the Schengen Area for 5 years.

Thea Morrison

02 November 2017 19:15