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EU, Georgia Sign Visa Facilitation Treaty
Civil Georgia, Tbilisi / 17 Jun.'10 / 18:24

Georgian Foreign Minister Grigol Vashadze and Spanish Foreign Minister Miguel Ángel Moratinos, whose country holds EU’s rotating presidency, signed on June 17 in Brussels EU-Georgia visa facilitation agreement.

The agreement will go into force together with readmission treaty after these two agreements are ratified by the European Parliament and the Georgian Parliament, the Georgian Foreign Ministry said.

The visa facilitation will include, among other things, issuing multiple-entry visas with a long period of validity to certain categories of applicants including businesspeople, journalists and family members of Georgian citizens residing in the EU. The agreement cuts the current EUR 60 visa fee to EUR 35 also envisages waiving fees for specific categories such as children, family members of Georgian citizens residing in the EU, representatives of civil society organisations. The agreement will exempt holders of diplomatic passports from the visa obligation.

The visa facilitation agreement applies to all EU-member states, except of the UK and Denmark, according to the Georgian Foreign Ministry.

The readmission agreement with Georgia is expected to be signed within the following weeks, according to EU. Both the readmission and visa facilitation agreements will go into force on the same day.

Readmission agreements lays out obligations and procedures for the authorities of EU member states and the third countries with whom the treaty is signed as to when and how to take back people who are illegally residing on the territories of the parties.

“The conclusion of a visa facilitation agreement is a concrete step forward in EU-Georgia relations. It is EU's message of openness to the Georgian citizens." Cecilia Malmström, Commissioner for Home Affairs, said. "The visa facilitation and readmission agreements are very tangible result of the Eastern partnership and will promote interaction between citizens of the EU and Georgia and strengthen our cooperation in the fight against irregular immigration.”

'This is part of our commitment to bring Georgia closer to the EU, not only at institutional level but also at peoples' level'', Štefan Füle, Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighbourhood Policy, said.

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