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Georgia, the European Union, and the Visa-Free Travel Regime: Between European Identity and Strategic Pragmatism

  • Chiara Loda (a1)

Abstract

In March 2017, Georgian citizens were able to travel visa-free to the Schengen Area. This development was highly significant to Georgia, whose narrative of “belonging to Europe” has long contrasted with the travel restrictions for Georgian citizens, who were previously required to undergo complicated consular procedures. However, this was far from being a routine bilateral negotiation. Visa disparities mirrored the contractual asymmetry between Tbilisi and Brussels. This article focuses on how Georgia calibrated its political discourse vis-à-vis the European Union. After outlining both the symbolic and political relevance of visa liberalization, this work assesses the Georgian political rhetoric at different times: in 2005, when Georgia unilaterally lifted visa requirements for Western visitors, and in 2015 and 2016, when visa liberalization was widely expected. The article’s theoretical framework and the final conclusions are relevant to the study of visa regimes and the external relations of small states.

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*Corresponding author. Email: chiara.loda2@mail.dcu.ie

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Georgia, the European Union, and the Visa-Free Travel Regime: Between European Identity and Strategic Pragmatism

  • Chiara Loda (a1)

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