Minister of Internal Affairs Giorgi Mgebrishvili says he has signed a command that Georgia’s border officers will have additional responsibilities, now that Georgia will have a visa free regime to Schengen area commencing on March 28th. Border control officers will interview Georgian citizens and will ask to check if they have proper documentation. Where necessary, border officers will also inform citizens about potential consequences of travelling without the according documents..
“I signed the command today, which says that border officers will be asked to hold detailed interview with citizens travelling to the Schengen zone; and to also give consultations and check if their travel documents are in accordance to Schengen demands. If during such checks it turns out that any of the documents are not in standards, which means that the travelers most likely won’t be available to enter the EU, the border officer will warn the citizen regarding the potential consequences,” Minister of Internal Affairs Mgebrishvili stated.
Internal Affairs Minister Mgebrishvili also stated that “as asked by the Prime Minister, we have a special program which will ensure a proactive exchange of information with our European colleagues regarding Georgian citizens who violate the conditions.”
The visa free regime enters in force tomorrow, on the 28th of March. On March 8th, the regulation on the suspension mechanism and visa free regime for Georgian citizens to travel to the Schengen area was posted in the EU Official Journal.
The chairman of the European Council and the President of the European Parliament signed the regulation on March 1st. At a plenary session on February 2nd, members of the European Parliament decided to grant Georgians visa free travel to the Schengen zone, with 553 votes in favour, 66 against, and 28 abstentions. With visa-travel to the Schengen Zone, Georgian citizens will be able to travel to 22 member state countries of the European Union and four non-EU member states for 90 days in a 180-day period.
Many high-level European officials such as EP President Martin Schulz, European Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy & Enlargement Negotiations Johannes Hahn, and the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Federica Mogherini, had previously expressed their support in granting Georgians visa free travel.
EU-Georgia relations have strengthened in recent years. An EU-Georgia Association Agreement was initiated at the EU Eastern Partnership Summit in Vilnius, Lithuania, on November 29, 2013, and the Association Agreement between Georgian and the European Union was signed on June 27, 2014.