Saturday, May 22, 2021

EU Foreign Policy Chief: Kosovo Has Met All Criteria for Visa Liberalisation, EU Needs to Make Progress

Kosovo’s visa liberalisation is long overdue, according to Josep Borrell, the European Union High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy.

Borrell has emphasised that the country has met all the criteria “and we now need to make progress on this issue”, while stressing that he will fully support this process, reports.

His comments came during an informal dinner held in order to discuss the situation in the Western Balkan countries and their European future.

Present in the same meeting were the leaders of the six Western Balkans countries; President of Montenegro Milo Đukanović, Prime Minister of Albania, Edi Rama, Prime Minister of Serbia, Ana Brnabić, Chairman of the Council of Ministers of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Zoran Tegeltjia, Prime Minister of North Macedonia, Zoran Zaev and Prime Minister of Kosovo’s Prime Minister Albin Kurti.

“I wanted to exchange with the Western Balkans leaders openly and informally about their concerns and proposals for the region and its European future, as well as a more strategic approach to the European foreign policy,” the European Union High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy pointed out.

However, some European countries’ countries, such as the Netherlands and France, continue to oppose visa liberalisation for Kosovo citizens. According to them, Kosovo has problems with the rule of law and crime and corruption affairs.

Earlier this week, the Netherlands’ government said that Kosovo is profoundly involved in corruption affairs while re-opposing the much sought-after visa liberalisation process.

The Dutch’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that Kosovo has a high level of corruption and organised crime. The same Ministry noted that there is not enough support in the Council for Kosovo’s visa liberalisation process up to this point.

But, German Member of Bundestag and Transatlantic Coordinator of the Federal Government, Peter Beyer, has a different opinion regarding this issue. On February 17, when Kosovo celebrated its independence anniversary, he urged authorities in Europe to grant visa-free entry for citizens of Kosovo immediately, saying that the country has met all the needed criteria.

Besides Beyer, Germany’s Foreign Minister Heiko Maas last month said that Kosovo “has fulfilled all the requirements for visa liberalisation and it should be granted [with it].”

However, the much sought-after visa liberalisation process was not considered a subject of priority by the Portuguese Presidency of the European Council, as it failed to include this issue in its agenda. The Presidency work that began in January will continue until the end of June.

Kosovo has been attempting to reach an agreement on European Union visa liberalisation for over nine years now in order to ease the travel process for its citizens. Even though on July 18, 2018, the European Commission confirmed that the country met all the requirements on visa-free travel with the EU, the process has yet not been finalised.

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