Georgia to travel visa-free to Schengen area by 2016

Georgia expects to enjoy visa-free regime with Schengen countries after the 2015 Eastern Partnership Summit in Riga., 02 Apr 2014 - 00:14, Tbilisi,Georgia

Georgian travellers are set to enjoy an increase in freedom after authorities announced citizens would travel visa-free to Shengen countries no later than 2016.

The Shengen area comprises of 26 countries that have abolished border control between their common borders. It functions as a single country for international travel purposes and encourages free movement of goods, information, money and people.

The announcement was made by the State Minister of European and Euro-Atlantic Integration Alex Petriashvili.

He hoped that first stage of the Visa Liberalization Action Plan would be finalized by the end of summer, and the second stage would be confirmed before the Eastern Partnership Summit in 2015, which will be held in Riga, Latvia.

The Minister stated visa-free travel would be applied to all Georgian citizens, not just to a certain category.

"This [visa-free regime] will be applied to all citizens who have a Georgian passport, among them are Abkhazins and Ossetians, when all stages of the Action Plan are fulfilled and EU makes an appropriate decision," Petriashvili said.

Twenty-two of the 28 European Union member states and all four European Free Trade Association (EFTA) members participate in the Schengen area.

The Visa Liberalization Action Plan was handed to the Georgian Government in February 2013. If Georgia successfully implements the plan, the EU will make a decision about granting Georgian citizens with visa-free travel to Schengen countries.

The Action Plan consists of two stages that envisage legislative amendments, as well as reforms in the fields of documents' security, border management, migration, public order and security, human rights.