Europe

Several EU Countries Pushing for Visa-Free Travel Suspension for Georgia

Several European Union countries have required that the EU authorities impose sanctions against Georgia, including the suspension of the visa-free travel regime.

Such a request has come following the passing of the controversial “foreign agents” law by the Georgian government, SchengenNew reports.

According to the Financial Times, officials familiar with the matter have said that Estonia, the Netherlands, Czechia, and Sweden want to discuss restrictive measures against Georgia at a meeting of the EU foreign affairs ministers that is scheduled to take place next week.

As explained, these four countries will propose, among many other measures, to revoke visa-free travel to the Schengen Area for passport holders of Georgia.

The officials further said that EU countries are considering different measures that are aimed at putting pressure on the Georgian government.

At the same time, they warned that the entry of the “foreign agents” law into force would be the biggest setback for the EU accession process of Georgia.

Georgia passed the controversial “foreign agents” bill last month. If the bill gets enacted, it would require organisations in the country that receive a certain amount of funding from abroad to be labelled as “foreign agents”.

The bill would also give the right to the Georgian authorities to monitor internal discussions of these organisations.

This controversial bill is very similar to a law in Russia, and this has sparked concerns among the EU authorities as well as citizens of the country who have been protesting against its enactment.

The EU Parliament said that the bill is incompatible with the bloc’s valued and democratic principles. The same authority adopted a resolution proposing the Commission revise the visa-free travel regime with Georgia.

Georgian Authorities Claim Suspension of Visa-Free Travel for Citizens of the Country Is Impossible

While the EU Parliament and now several EU countries have proposed to impose strict rules on Georgia if the country implements the bill into law, the Georgian Vice Prime Minister, Tea Tsulukiani, said that it is very improbable and impossible for the EU to revoke visa-free travel for Georgians.

She said that there are many procedural issues that would not permit the authorities of the EU to revoke the regime.

The Chair of the European Integration Committee of the Georgian Parliament, Maka Botchorishvili also said that it is improbable for the visa-free travel regime to be revoked.

She said that there is no reason for Georgians to worry about the visa-free travel suspension to the bloc.

According to Botchorishvili, the suspension of visa-free travel is a decision that needs to be approved by all member states of the EU. The same noted that the country reached a visa-free travel agreement with the EU as a result of important reforms it had made so far.

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