Antonio Tajani, President of the European Parliament, and Georgian PM Giorgi Kvirikashvili shaking hands after signing the visa waiver agreement. (Government of Georgia.)

TBILISI, DFWatch–After years of negotiations, Georgia’s prime minister finally signed an agreement with the EU on Wednesday which gives his country’s citizens the right to visa-free travel to the Schengen area.

The visa waiver plan will be published in the EU journal on March 8 and enter into force on March 28.

The document pertaining to a new suspension mechanism was also signed on Wednesday. The mechanism became a topic last year after the visa waiver plan ran into difficulties due to fear in some western European countries of a potential flood wave of asylum seekers from Georgia. With the suspension mechanism, each individual member country will retain the right to halt visa-free arrivals  without first having to ask the EU, if certain conditions should arise.

From March 28, Georgian citizens can enter the vast borderless Schengen area for a period of up to 90 days within a 180 day period without applying for a visa. The only requirement is having the new type of biometric passport.

The Schengen area consists of all EU member countries except the United Kingdom and Ireland, and in addition a few countries that are not EU members, including Switzerland and Norway.