Almost all countries that were granted the visa-free regime with the European Union (EU) had initially similar violation statistics as Georgia, says the Deputy State Minister for European and Euro-Atlantic Integration of Georgia.
Archil Karaulashvili told local media that the number of Georgian citizens who violated the visa-free travel terms is not alarming.
"The statistics are not pleasant, of course, but it is not too alarming either. In fact, all countries who were given the EU visa-free regime had almost the same statistics and sometimes even worse than us”, he said.
He added that the government continues to work to raise awareness of its citizens by informing them what could happen if they violate the visa-free travel terms and conditions.
"We need to explain to people that asking for asylum, when Georgia is recognised by many countries as a safe state, is, in fact, nonsense”, Karaulashvili said.
He said that Georgians committing a crime in a foreign country is also a problem but the scale of it is not big enough to pose any threat to Georgia’s visa-free regime with the EU.
"We are taking absolutely adequate steps to prevent such cases and if [crimes] are still committed, we will react to them properly”, he said.
Between March 28 and October 20, a total of 161,885 Georgian citizens have traveled visa-free to the EU’s Schengen Zone.
It is estimated that 9,875 out of those who travelled during this time violated the Georgia-EU visa deal and did not return back after the end of 90 days.