4 myths about visaliberalisation

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Reading Time: 4 minutes

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Starting March 28th, 2017, Georgian citizens will have the ability to travel to countries belonging to the European Union/ the Schengen zone, on short-term visits, without a Visa.

Various tabloids, or Kremlin-affiliated media, as well as politicians have been spreading several myths and disinformations, regarding visaliberalisation. Myth Detector is offering you an overview of the diffused main myths, as well as real facts concerning visaliberalisation.

Myth N 1: As a result of visaliberalisation, solely wealthy citizens will be able to travel within the European Union.

Visaliberalisation considerably facilitates the movement of Georgian citizens to the Schengen zone, as it enables to save time as well as money/finances. As of right now, Georgian citizens have to go through 7 steps, in order to reach the Schengen zone. Yet, after the visaliberalisation, the citizens will only need to pass 2 steps (See the article and infographic).

1

The journey to European countries will not only be possible through somewhat expensive and luxurious airlines, but it will also be attainable within an affordable budget. The tickets for WIZZ AIR Airline Company are considerably low. For example, it is possible to fly to Berlin for 105 GEL (39,99€), and to book a room at a hostel for about 30 GEL. If desired, booking a hotel room for one night in Berlin is also possible for 93 GEL. In Batumi, booking a standard room in a three-star hotel, for one night only costs 124 GEL ($50), whereas a journey by bus is approximately 15-25 GEL.

2

Myth N 2: Similarly to the Baltic States, visaliberalisation will generate a large wave of migration, which would be a threat to the country’s demographic.

Comparing the Baltic States to Georgia is unfounded, since Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia are members of the European Union. Therefore the citizens of these countries have a right to not only work, but also reside within the rest of the EU member states. However, Georgia isn’t a member of the European Union, and thus granting visaliberalisation to the country doesn’t imply allowing its citizens to work or take long-term trips to the territory.

Myth N 3: Visaliberalisation will lead us to a demographic catastrophe. Meanwhile, the European Union is pressuring Georgia into welcoming Syrian refugees.

The topic of visaliberalisation is often connected to false assertions that a visa-free movement would empty Georgia. Yet, on the basis of an agreement concerning the readmission of individuals living without permission, the European Union can request that Georgia welcome a wave of Syrian refugees. As Georgia isn’t a member state of the EU, the latter Union imposes no obligation on the country, regarding the process of receiving refugees. Such a request is neither included in the Agreement Regarding the Association with the European Union, nor in the Agreement on Readmission.

Myth N 4: Visaliberalisation will not bring tangible benefits to Georgia

As a result of visaliberalisation, Georgian citizens will be completely free from Visa fees, and will have to ability, with a short-term visit, to spread 90 days throughout any 180 days in the EU/ Schengen member states.

The short-term visit can be for touristic purposes, to visit family members or relatives, for business trips or negotiations. It can also be in order to partake in international conferences, seminars or exhibitions, as well as to participate in short-term study courses, trainings or internship programs; additionally it can be to engage in or attend cultural or sports activities, to profit from medical services, different treatments or surgeries.

Therefore, the right to a visa-free movement means developing tourism, increasing cultural exchange, as well as student exchange programs; it also means new business contacts, new ways of sharing information and experiences, encouraging communication between people, and developing partnership and cooperation between different communities. Overall, the latter aspects will benefit the sustainable development of Georgian economy and its human resources.

Additional useful fact:

The Georgian government, with the help of the EU, has launched a large-scale information campaign about the visa-free movement. The video, titled “Guide to the EU zone/ area for visa-free travel”, was prepared with the initiative of the latter campaign, and was translated in the following languages: AzerbaijaniArmenianAbkhazOssetian and Russian.

 

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Visa-free movement in the European Union includes travelling to:

  • 22 member states except for Irelad and Great Britain
  • 4 non-member states: Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland
  • 4 Schengen candidate states: Bulgaria, Cyprus, Romania and Croatia.

In order to access the EU/ Schengen territory a Georgian citizen:

  • Must not be in the list of individuals who endanger public order and health or the internal security of a country
  • Must not be convicted or persecuted in any of the EU/Schengen member states with a criminal offense, that allocates imprisonment for a term of more than 1 year.
  • Must not be at the receiving end of a decision by a EU/Schengen member state ordering his/her exile.
  • There should be no body of evidence of criminal activity on his/her part or even of such intention.
  • Must not be on the list of individuals, who are prohibited to enter the EU/Schengen territory.

Prepared by Dali Kurdadze

Topic: Politics
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