Wednesday, May 19, 2021

Netherlands Continues to Oppose Kosovo’s Visa Liberalisation Due to Corruption

The Netherlands’ government considers that Kosovo is deeply involved in corruption affairs, leading the country’s authorities to reoppose the much sought-after visa liberalisation for the Western Balkan countries.

According to the Netherlands’ Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Kosovo suffers from a high level of corruption and organised crime. The same asserts that there is not enough support for the visa liberalisation process for Kosovo in the Council, up to this point, reports.

The Ministry also stressed that“visa liberalisation is a technical, standards-driven process in which a country must meet all the prerequisites before the Council can decide to abolish visas.”

“During the last discussion on this issue in 2018, the Netherlands concluded that the Commission’s confirmation of Kosovo’s history against the high level of corruption and organised crime as defined in the Commission’s report was still not convincing enough,” the statement published by the same Ministry reveals.

In this regard, the expert on European Integration Issues, Demush Shasha, has pointed out that they have brought to the table many arguments to sceptical countries, such as the Netherlands, that Kosovo has problems with the rule of law.

However, Political Analyst Emir Abrashi has a different opinion. He believes that Kosovo is being treated unfairly concerning the visa liberalisation process.

The European Parliament has continuously called for visa liberalisation for Kosovo; still, the Council of Ministers’ has not taken any concrete step in this regard.

Three months ago, on February 17, Kosovo celebrated its 13th independence anniversary. While counting some of its achieved objectives through years, as an independent country, the government also mentioned some of its future intentions, pending for a long time now, among which is also the visa liberalisation process.

On Kosovo’s independence anniversary, the German Member of Bundestag and Transatlantic Coordinator of the Federal Government, Peter Beyer, called on the European authorities to grant visa-free entry for Kosovo’s citizens as soon as possible.

Last month, the German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas raised the hopes of Kosovo’s citizens while publicly declaring that Kosovo “has fulfilled all criteria for visa liberalisation and it should be granted [with it].”

Maas comments came during a meeting held behind closed doors with the European Union Foreign Ministers, in Brussels, on May 10. However, the Portuguese Presidency of the European Union Council has failed to include Kosovo’s visa liberalisation process in its agenda. The Presidency began its work in January, and it will continue until the end of June.

Since February 19, 2012, Kosovo is seeking to reach an agreement on EU visa liberalisation in order to facilitate the travel process for its citizens. However, it has been required to fulfil all the criteria in order to successfully finish this process.

On July 18, 2018, the European Commission confirmed that the country met all the needed requirements on visa-free travel with the European Union. Yet, the process continues to be pending for many years now.

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