Workshop aims to facilitate visa liberalization between EU and Georgia02.08.2012

A workshop dedicated to EU visa liberalization and readmission between the EU and Georgia was organized by the Caucasus Institute for Peace, Democracy and Development (CIPDD) on September 9.

Georgia signed a visa facilitation and readmission agreement on June 17, 2010 which came into force on March 1, 2011. According to the agreement, the price of visas will decrease (from 60 Euro to 35 Euro), 12 categories of people (pensioners, children, students, journalists, diplomats, sportsmen, etc.) can receive a visa free of charge. The process of visa liberalization is ongoing.

According to Caucasus Institute program manager Tamar Pataraia, ordinary people already feel the positive changes that have resulted from the facilitation and readmission agreement. “[The next achievement we obtain] will depend on the emigration of illegal Georgian people to their country. The struggle with corruption, power of law, legislative independence and the safety of frontiers will be also considered,” Pataraia said.

The EU has held negotiations regarding visa facilitation with Russia since 2007. Visa officials explain that it might have some negative consequences for Georgia, as it could facilitate travel for residents in Abkhazia and South Ossetia- Georgia’s breakaway regions whose inhabitants hold Russian passports. “The EU visa facilitation process should proceed alongside that of the Russian Federation, otherwise it will hinder the reintegration process of those living in Georgia’s breakaway regions,” the director of the European Initiative Liberal Academy, Keti Tsikhelashvili said.

As Tamar Pataraia explains, the EU is interested in EU visa liberalization and readmission between the EU and the Moldavian and Ukrainian border with EU countries. They also must meet the conditions set by the EU. This is why discussing Georgia with Moldova and Ukraine is premature at this stage.

Representatives from Macedonian NGOs, Zhidas Daskalovski from the School of Public Policy, Mother Theresa and Maria Risteska from the Center for Research and Policy Making (CRPM) shared the Macedonian visa liberalization advocacy experience with local colleagues. Daskalovski mentioned that civil society was very actively involved in these processes; people in Macedonia demanded visa facilitation through peaceful demonstrations.

Official statistics show that 22.9% of local people are immigrants. 2,051 people were deported from EU countries back to Georgia in 2009-2010. The top countries for these deportations include Poland (489 people), Greece (415 people) and Germany (339 people).

By Nino Gelashvili 

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