Georgia’s visa liberalisation progress in foreign media

Peace Bridge in Georgia’s capital Tbilisi was lit in EU flag colors yesterday to celebrate Georgia's visa liberalisation progress. Photo by Tbilisi City Hall, 03 Feb 2017 - 13:04, Tbilisi,Georgia

European Parliament’s (EP) decision to approve visa-free travel for Georgia at yesterday’s decisive vote has made headlines in foreign media.

Under the title "Georgia Celebrates as EU Opens Its Doors”, Eurasianet says "Georgia erupted in jubilation February 2 as EU lawmakers approved visa-free access for Georgian citizens, a prize Tbilisi has long sought”.

Journalist of the story Giorgi Lomsadze says "broadly, the move is seen as a real promise to escape the destiny of being a post-Soviet country held under Russia’s thumb, and achieve EU-style democracy and prosperity”.

Foreign Policy says that while the Britain is expecting to leave the European Union (EU), people in Georgia’s capital Tbilisi celebrate a "hard-won approval to travel to the EU visa-free”.

In Georgia, the EU is still considered a destination, not something from which to escape, it seems”, Foreign Police’s Emily Tamkin says.

Tamkin further described the road Georgia has gone through as: "four years [of] working to meet tough benchmarks to get the European Parliament’s blessing for its citizens to travel without visas to the EU”.

Among other things, it developed policies to better handle migration and to fight against corruption and organized crime”, the report says.

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty’s Rikard Jozwiak says "Georgia has long sought greater integration with Europe but has been frustrated with the pace of EU moves to bring it closer”.

Al Jazeera also says "the short-term travel visa-waiver – expected to come into force in late March following formal approval by the European Council - applies to the Schengen area, which includes 26 countries”.

Yesterday was the final stretch of a long marathon Georgia has been running for years. Starting in spring, Georgian citizens will be able to travel visa-free to most countries of the European Union.

With 553 votes in favour, 66 against and 28 abstaining, the European Parliament (EP) voted in favour of visa-free travel for Georgian citizens to the Schengen Area at a plenary session yesterday.

The 26 Schengen Area countries are Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland.