Georgian students based in Germany have teamed up to oppose to what they call an "anti-Georgian campaign” in German media that they believe hinders Georgian citizens’ chance to travel easier to the European Union (EU).
The students addressed German authorities and media organisations in an open letter titled "Georgia isn’t a criminal country”.
The letter stressed that statistics showed the crime rate in Georgia was much lower than in some of the EU member states.
Besides, crimes committed by Georgians in Germany were also much fewer than crimes committed by other foreign citizens (EU citizens included) in Germany who enjoyed a visa-free travel regime within the EU.
Georgian doctoral student at the University of Cologne in Germany Mikheil Sarjveladze, who was behind the student initiative, said the letter was written following an "increasing anti-Georgian campaign in German media”.
Last week several German media outlets published articles that included information as if Georgians committed the highest number of crimes in Germany and Georgian criminals were a serious threat to ensuring security in the country.
The students believed such articles and reports aimed to create an anti-Georgian attitude among the German public, which could hinder Georgia’s visa liberalisation.
The open letter said there could be two possible reasons why this anti-Georgian campaign began.
- Pressure from Russia - the country who wanted to change Georgia’s pro-Western orientation and prevent it from getting closer to the EU; and
- Germany’s domestic politics, where some parties could attempt to exaggerate the Georgian crime rates in Germany in order to increase the fear of the refugee crises and gain votes from yet undecided voters.
Whatever the case, the students stressed Georgia had fulfilled all the requirements for visa liberalisation and now the country deserved the promised visa-free travel.
The letter was sent to Germany’s Foreign and Interior Ministries, Parliament and other state agencies. Also, the letter was sent to German media including SPIEGEL ONLINE, DIE WELT, BILD, Huffington Post and DIE ZEIT. The Huffington Post already published the open letter.
RFE/RL reported today there were three countries that still didn’t agree on offering visa-free travel to Georgia. These were Germany, France and Italy. The rest of the EU was ready to finalise Georgia’s visa liberalisation.