Kosovo NGOs ask Macron for visa liberalisation

After congratulating Macron on his re-election, the 81 signatories reminded the president that ten years have passed since Kosovo started the process of liberalising visas with the countries of the Schengen area. [EPA-EFE/Thibault Camus]

Major NGOs in Kosovo have addressed a letter to French President Emmanuel Macron asking that the EU lift the visa regime for Kosovo citizens who remain Europe’s only people who cannot travel freely despite having met all visa liberalisation requirements.

After congratulating Macron on his re-election, the 81 signatories reminded the president that ten years have passed since Kosovo started the process of liberalising visas with the countries of the Schengen area.

This process has lasted longer for Kosovo than for “all Western Balkan countries combined, multiplied by two,” they noted.

“We, the citizens of Kosovo, looked with despair at the citizens of other countries in the region enjoying their right to move freely through the EU. And when the time finally came in 2012 to start the visa liberalisation process, Kosovo was handed a roadmap that contained twice as many criteria as for other Western Balkan countries. Nevertheless, over the next six years, Kosovo met all the criteria for visa liberalisation. This was officially confirmed in July 2018 and was subsequently reconfirmed several times by the European Commission and the European Parliament,” they highlighted.

All EU member states must vote in favour of the visa regime being lifted. A number of countries – most notably France, the Netherlands, Denmark, and Belgium – have, at different stages, opposed it, citing a lack of progress in tackling corruption.

Both Kosovo and Georgia began talks with the EU on the matter at the same time in 2012. Five years later, in 2017, Georgians were granted free movement to Europe.

Macron’s re-election has been met with enthusiasm and cautious optimism in Kosovo, with many experts claiming that France may soon finally throw its support behind visa liberalisation for Kosovo.

The European Parliament and European Commission have continuously supported a visa-free movement for Kosovo people since 2018.

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