As a visa-free regime has been launched in the European Union for Georgia March 28, Georgian citizens living in the occupied territories of Abkhazia and South Ossetia are also eligible for unhindered travel to the EU, according to Georgian Foreign Minister Mikhail Dzhanelidze, Georgia Online reports.
”It is especially important that all benefits related to a visa-free travel will be available to our fellow citizens who live in the occupied territories,” said Dzhanelidze, according to Georgia Online.
”Our diplomatic envoys abroad work 24/7 and will assist as much as possible each of our citizens, so they get the most benefits from the visa-free travel across Europe,” Dzhanelidze said.
Earlier, the decision to introduce a visa-free travel across the EU for Georgian citizens was published on March 8 in the Official Journal of the European Union.
According to an earlier report by Civil.ge citing State Minister for Reconciliation Ketevan Tsikhelashvili, residents of Abkhazia and South Ossetia can only benefit from visa-free travel to Schengen group of countries if they accept Georgian citizenship.
When it comes to citizenship issues, sources familiar with the matter tell Civil.ge that only those residents of Abkhazia and South Ossetia holding Soviet passports issued in these provinces, or who can prove their residence before 1993 are currently automatically eligible for Georgian citizenship. For persons born after that date, or having no proof of residence, eligibility for citizenship would be less straightforward to establish.
In the majority of cases, their personal data have been kept in the central registry of then Soviet Republic capital – Tbilisi. Upon dissolution of the Soviet Union, Georgia has automatically granted citizenship to all of its residents at the time, unless they expressly opted out.