Georgia's EU visa waiver may be cancelled over violations by Georgian travellers
The Georgian government has begun looking into legislative amendments to address issues related to Georgians violating the visa-free travel agreement with the European Union.
One change will supposedly make it more difficult to change or amend one’s last name if the individual in question has violated the terms of the visa-free agreement.
Deputy Minister of Justice Aleksandr Baramia says that Germany and a number of other EU countries have expressed their concern over the sharp increase in the number of Georgians attempting to receive refugee status in EU states and those who violate the visa-free travel terms.
The situation has put into question the feasibility of the existing visa-free agreement.
“It would be very unfortunate if Georgia became the victim of the lack of conscientiousness of several of its citizens. In order to prevent such a scenario, we need to make certain changes, one of which will be a change in the process of changing one’s last name,” explained Baramia.
It is currently easy to change one’s family name in Georgia. The authorities intend to make the process more difficult for those who are wanted both domestically and abroad via Interpol. People will be able to change their names only in-person and not through the help of a representative. People who are abroad have the right to apply to have their last names changed in the Georgian consulate of the country in which they reside. However, when making the final decision they must return to Georgia to conduct the process in the country.
The array of legislative amendments will be examined at the next government meeting.
• The EU visa-free travel agreement for Georgia entered into effect on 28 March 2017. From March to December 2017 over 170 000 Georgian citizens made use of the visa-free agreement to travel to Europe.
• The European Union has the right to activate a so-called ‘suspension mechanism’ in order to re-examine the liberal visa agreement if Georgia will prove unable to fulfill its obligations.
• The European Commission released a report on 20 December 2017 in which Georgia was warned of problems that have appeared in relation to the agreement.