Illustration by Jeta Dobranja/Trembelat.

EU proposes to lift visas for Kosovo citizens

The European Commission proposed on Wednesday to lift the visa regime for Kosovo citizens.

The European Commission (EC) proposed to the Council of the European Union and the European Parliament to lift visa requirements for Kosovo and Turkey today.

The European Commission’s recommendation is the first step toward a visa-free regime for Kosovan citizens, who will be allowed to travel in all members of the Schengen area up to three months.

“Today we follow up on our commitment to propose visa-free travel to the EU for the people of Kosovo with biometric passports,” said Dimitris Avramopoulos, EC Commissioner for Migration.

Avramopoulos emphasized that the recommendation is the result of the hard work and successful efforts of the Kosovo authorities in achieving far-reaching and difficult reforms in justice, home affairs, and other areas.

Visa liberalization will happen once the Kosovo parliament ratifies a border demarcation deal with Montenegro and Prishtina authorities make more concrete efforts against corruption and organized crime.

This recommendation will be followed up by a voting by EU Ministers and EU Parliament. Kosovo needs a qualified majority, which means it needs 55 per cent of member states, or 16 out of 28 member states.

Once the proposal has been adopted by the European Parliament and the Council, the people of Kosovo with biometric passports will no longer require visas when travelling for short stays of up to 90 days to all EU Member States except for Ireland and the UK, as well as the four Schengen associated countries (Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland).

The exemption concerns only short-stay visas valid for up to 90 days of travel or any 180-day period for business, tourist or family purposes.

This recommendation was welcomed by Kosovo citizens and politicians who took up to social media to express their gratitude and happiness over the recommendation.

“This positive recommendation for visa free travel is the most-deserved evaluation for Kosovo citizens by the EU. The results of the government’s work is becoming more tangible daily for Kosovo citizens..,” said Isa Mustafa on his Facebook page.

“The road towards visa liberalization for Kosovo was long and difficult, but remarkable and sustainable reforms are visible,” tweeted Bekim Collaku, Minister for European Integration.

“After decades of isolation, there won’t be any waiting in front of embassies, no more visa rejections,” wrote Kosovo President Hashim Thaci on Facebook. He added that this isn’t a present from the EU, but it’s a well-deserved result of the government’s work.

Kosovo is the last country in the Western Balkans to receive visa liberalisation. Serbia, Macedonia and Montenegro won visa free travel in 2010 while Bosnia and Herzegovina and Albania started traveling to Schengen countries without a visa in 2011.

04/05/2016 - 14:11

04 May 2016 - 14:11

Prishtina Insight is a digital and print magazine published by BIRN Kosovo, an independent, non-governmental organisation. To find out more about the organization please visit the official website. Copyright © 2016 BIRN Kosovo.