Particular Problems Emerge at Greek and Italian Embassies
In the last period public discontent is growing because of serious problems with receiving EU entrance visas. Public discontent has also broken out in the social network.
Mariam Kukunashvili, founder of New Life Global Network center of surrogation, describes the current problems at the Italian Embassy in details. This is the next case when the Italian Embassy has not satisfied the businesswoman’s application for EU entrance visa, despite she meets all criteria published on the embassy website.
Mariam Kukunashvili: “This is not the first case, when I face problems at the embassy. I had multiyear visas for European countries for more than 10 years. I visit many European countries throughout a year and I need these visas. I took the previous two-year visa from Italian Embassy. Consequently, I have the right to request for three-year visa on condition of numerous visits. Instead of this, they have issued a two-week visa with one-time entrance right. Because of this, all my visits to other countries has been suspended. For example, I had to visit Great Britain and after this I could not return to Italy. Consequently, they have given this one-time visa in vain”, Kukunashvili noted.
The situation worsened after a new consul was appointed at the Italian Embassy, because the new consul makes everybody visit the Embassy several times, Mariam Kukunashvili noted.
“For example, in the previous year, my coworker planned to visit Italy for wedding journey and the consul did not issue a visa to her, but issued visa to her spouse. Naturally, this is a ridiculous fact, even more so this person takes a wage of 1500 USD, while those Georgian citizens, who arrive in Italy for job places, receive only 800 EUR a month. Would this person with a higher wage stay in Italy? Naturally, this is an illogical decision. My parents have also faced problems in the last year. The new consul refused to issue visas to them without substantiation. Even more so, they had very impressive salary transfers every month, as well as additional financial guarantees from me. The submitted application was confirming that I was taking my parents for trip. In that period I sent email to the Consul and marked the Ministry of Foreign Affairs as a recipient of the letter. The Consul phoned me, brought apologies and told me to submit documents anew. If we do not mention the application submission fee of 150 EUR, it takes much time to collect documents anew. If the Consul is professional, he would guess these aspects. I repeatedly wrote to the Consul and told him what I was going to do in relation to my Facebook status. I explained to him that he was not to call me, like the previous case, and offer to submit documents repeatedly. I told him that I was waiting for multiyear visa directly. He does not have the right to act in this way”, Kukunashvili said.
Movie critic Gogi Gvakharia also talks about problems that Georgian citizens are facing at embassies of various European countries. According to his information, embassies refuse issuing multiyear visas to reporters, businessmen, doctors and everybody who had three-year Schengen visas in their passports and they issue only one-week, two-week visas after queues, filling out applications and long queues.
“This happens not because of new emigration policy. Greece, Italy and Span issue 5-year multiyear visas to Russian citizens. Care for your citizens. Show interest and explain what happens in reality”, Gvakharia noted.
MP Levan Berdzenishvili also proves that the German Embassy abstains from issuing visas to Georgian citizens. “The German Embassy has issued two-day visa to my assistant, who has graduated Munster University. The parliament of Georgia had asked one-year visa for him”, MP Levan Berdzenishvili noted.
The Caucasus Business Week (CBW) showed interest whether the problem exists in reality and tried to cast light on real grounds of public discontent, but mediator companies, which act as an intermediary chain between applicants and Embassies, could not answer these questions. They asked to send questions in electronic form, but we have not received answers so far.
Travel companies also recognize real problems. Nata Rukhadze, head of Georgian Travel Group, explained that visa problems genuinely existed, but at this stage, all problems have been tackled. There are no places left physically at the Greek Consulate to receive interested applicants. All places are occupied at the consulate until mid September, Rukhadze noted.
“There is a huge number of applicants and places are limited. If the consular service manages to receive 10 persons a day, in reality 25 applicants stay in queue. And the consulate cannot receive such a quantity of applicants for a day. At the same time, I would like to note that interested bodies who plan to visit Greece or Italy should apply to mediator visa centers or travel companies, because these companies organize not only visa issues, they also sell tours and therefore they can register applicants for visa appointments at the embassy without problems”, Rukhadze noted.
In response to the questions about what factors have intensified demand for Greek and Italian directions and what are grounds for visa refusals, Rukhadze noted that all these problems are supposedly related to the recent instable developments in Turkey.
Rukhadze submitted general statistics of sales and noted that before acts of terrorism Turkey was a leader of sales, but now the situation has radically changed and Greece and Egypt have outrun Turkey. Italy, Spain, Prague are in top five destinations, Rukhadze said.
“It should be also noted that currently people are disoriented and they do not know which directions to choose. We expect the sales of Greek tours to further increase. The direction of Egypt will be also intensified. It is also important that the price of Greek tours is rising because of growing demand”, Rukhadze added.
Salome Gorgodze, Good Travel PR manager, also talks about the European directions and the existing problems. There are no places at the Greek Embassy and problems arose because of this factor. As to other Consulates, in the last period the Italian Embassy has tightened visa issuance procedures. “The Consulate requests many additional documents. Not many refusals were made, but we do not know reasons for tightened regulations”, Gorgodze said.
In the last period the sales of Turkey packages were replaced by Egyptian tours. “This direction was not active previously, but now this direction has revived”, Gorgodze explained.
European destinations are also popular, for example, Greece, but it is difficult to make prognosis because of existing problems in the Consulate. The demand is growing for Italian and Croatian tours.
As to Turkey, the tour packages are being sold in ordinary regime and the country maintains first place in terms of sold packages thanks to very affordable prices and top-quality services, Gorgodze noted.
Intercontinental travel company provides different information. The Greek consulate issues visas without problem, but visa appointment procedures may last for several weeks because of increased demand for this direction, the company head Nino Makhviladze said.
Top five bestseller directions are as follows: Greece, Egypt, Italy, Spain and so on. At the same time, the price of Greek tours are growing because of increased demand, Makhviladze said.
Maia Sidamonidze, the former head of the national tourism agency and tourism expert, does not have information on tightened visa issuance procedures at embassies of European countries. Maybe, increased demand for specific directions requires to make visa appointments two weeks earlier, but this does not signify that visa issuance procedures have been tightened, Maia Sidamonidze noted.