European flag. Photo: EPA-EFE/STEPHANIE LECOCQ

European Parliament Approves Visa Liberalization for Kosovo

The European Parliament took the last step towards liberalizing visas for Kosovars, in a much-delayed process that has lasted for more than ten years.

The European Parliament on Tuesday approved a decision to liberalize visas for Kosovo during the plenary session.

The decision will be officially signed on April 19 in Strasbourg by the European Parliament and the Council of the EU, when Kosovo’s first deputy prime minister for European Integration, Development and Dialogue, Besnik Bislimi, will be present, announced the government.

This decision marks the last step in the visa liberalization process, which has lasted more than 10 years since the dialogue on visa liberalization for Kosovars began.

The only step that must be taken after that is publication of the decision in the Official Gazette of the EU and its entry into force.

The new visa rules for Kosovo will enable its citizens to travel to the EU without a visa for up to 90 days in any 180-day span.

Since the deadline for the operationalization of ETIAS, the European Travel Information and Authorisation System, has been postponed to 2024, the lifting of visas for Kosovo is expected to take force on January 1 next year.

Faik Xhemajli,  a citizen from Drenas, says that although this decision comes in late, he hopes that in January 2024 he will be able to move freely to visit his relatives in the West.

“Even though it’s late, at least this time we are hoping it is worth the long wait,” says Xhemajli.

Veronë Perçuku, 22, from Vushtrria says that she welcomed the news of visa liberalization with very positive feelings. For many years, she faced challenges and limitations in Kosovo due to the lack of free movement.

“The visa liberalization process for Kosovo has been too long, especially when compared to other countries in the region”, she says.

From then on, citizens of Kosovo will be able to travel freely in the passport-free Schengen area, which consists of 27 European countries – most EU countries plus Norway, Switzerland and Liechtenstein.

The European Commission, since 2018, has confirmed several times that Kosovo has met all the conditions for visa liberalization, but it has been constantly delayed, leaving Kosovo the only country in the Western Balkans without freedom of movement.

The European Commission started the visa liberalization dialogue with Kosovo on January 19, 2012.

This article has been edited on 14:58 of April 18, to include the impressions of the citizens about visa liberalization. 

18/04/2023 - 13:11

18 April 2023 - 13:11

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.