We think it is important to maintain visa-free regime between the European Union and Georgia, but at this stage we often see how the system is abused, which undermines support for the visa-free regime in Europe, - French Ambassador to Georgia Diego Colas told reporters before the conference on visa-free regime and migration issues.
According to the Ambassador, Georgian citizens are increasingly seeking asylum in France, which damages the country's image internationally.
“Visa-free regime is a very tangible achievement of the EU-Georgia friendship. We consider it important to maintain and further strengthen this achievement, but at this stage we often see how the system is abused, which undermines support for the visa-free regime in Europe. It also has a negative effect on Georgia's image.
Georgian citizens are among those who increasingly seek asylum in France. There are more Georgian citizens than Russians seeking asylum in France today.
Of course, Georgia is a country with a very strong democracy and it is difficult to explain, but this is a problem for Georgia's image, as well as for visa-free regime in Europe. We have taken some important steps in this direction, for example we have ensured in France that applications from citizens of safe countries, such as Georgia, are processed very quickly. If applications of the asylum seekers are not granted, their return to their country of origin is organized very quickly and, at the same time, they have no health benefits.
However, there are more comprehensive situations that we have to deal with and we are now getting information about a few measures. The purpose of this conference is to establish a proper border control system together with our European and Georgian partners, as well as with our partners from the International Organization for Migration, and to ensure the dissemination of accurate information on those seeking asylum for health reasons," the French Ambassador said.
As Diego Colas pointed out, visa-free regime does not mean freedom from obligations.
“We want the visa-free regime to work properly and to prevent abuse of the system, because we want to maintain this regime as one of the examples of friendship between the European Union and Georgia," said French Ambassador.