European Union opens up visa-free travel to Georgia

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Georgia had always been seeking the waiver and EU Home Affairs Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos called it "a historic day for Georgia and its citizens".

When the process is complete, biometric passport holders will be able to enter the Schengen area, which includes 22 European Union member states (excluding Ireland, the United Kingdom, Croatia, Cyprus, Romania and Bulgaria) in addition to Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, and Switzerland for 90 days within any 180-day period for a holiday, business, or any other goal, except work.

"Today's adoption recognises the tremendous efforts undertaken by the Georgian authorities and the Georgian people to carry out far-reaching and hard reforms", added Avramopoulos. "It does this by making it easier for member states to notify circumstances which might lead to a suspension, by enabling the Commission to trigger the mechanism on its own initiative, and by tasking the Commission to send annual reports to the European Parliament and Council on the extent to which visa-exempt third countries continue to meet the necessary criteria", the press release read. Today, the European spirit is stronger in Georgia than anywhere else.

A monitoring mechanism has been introduced with the goal of ensuring that third countries which have been granted visa exemption following a visa liberalization dialogue continue to fulfil the criteria.

A recent public opinion poll by Caucasus Research and Resources Center showed that 56 percent of Georgians identify as European.

European Union member nations include Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, The Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Slovenia, Slovakia, Spain and Sweden. "I also congratulate Europe because Georgia, as an integral part of European civilization, has drawn even closer today to its European family", Kvirikashvili stated. Schengen candidates are Bulgaria, Cyprus, Croatia and Romania.

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