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European Parliament approves visa-free travel for Georgia

European Parliament approves visa-free travel for GeorgiaThe European Parliament has agreed Thursday to lift visa requirements for Georgia once a suspension mechanism allowing reintroducing visas with third countries enters into force.

Most lawmakers voted for the proposal at a session in Brussels on Thursday. MEPs approved the measure by a vote of 553 to 66, with 28 abstentions. No particular date for implementing the decision has been announced. The legislation needs to be formally approved by the Council.

Mariya Gabriel, the Parliamentґs rapporteur for the proposal, said Georgia’s authorities carried out “broad and complex reforms” to order to get the visa waiver, thanking them for consistency and patience.

The legislation still needs to be formally approved by the Council and will only enter into force once the suspension mechanism, which allows the temporary reintroduction of visas in the event of migration surges or risks to public security, is in place.

Georgians are likely to be able to travel visa-free to the Schengen zone starting in late March or early April, diplomats say.

Holders of Georgian biometric passports will now be able to enter the Schengen Area for 90 days within any 180-day period for holiday, business and other purposes except for that of working.

The visa waiver applies to the Schengen Area, which includes 22 EU member states (all except Ireland, the United Kingdom, Croatia, Cyprus, Romania and Bulgaria) in addition to Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland.
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