The Green MEP said she expected the European Commission, EC, to open Kosovo’s path towards the White Schengen list, which allows citizens of a country to travel across most of the European Union without a visa, in the ‘next couple of weeks’.
The news follows the European Parliament’s approval last week of plans for Albania and Bosnia and Herzegovina to join the list from January. The Green MEP said she expected the European Commission, EC, to open Kosovo’s path towards the White Schengen list, which allows citizens of a country to travel across most of the European Union without a visa, in the ‘next couple of weeks’.
If the Council of the European Union agrees to extend visa liberalization to the two Balkan states in November, Kosovars will be the only citizens of the region requiring visas to travel to the EU. The Austrian politician told Balkan Insight that she agreed with some Kosovars’ fears that such a step would transform Kosovo into a ‘ghetto’. Even those countries that don’t recognize Kosovo have said that Kosovo needs to be included in visa liberalization.
But she added that Kosovo’s image as a country of ‘criminals and corruption’ among certain member states, and increasing scepticism voiced by some major European powers, such as France, over extending visa liberalization, present obstacles on the road to visa liberalization for the world’s youngest state. Officials in Paris have expressed doubt in recent weeks about extending visa liberalization to Albania and Bosnia, which have now fulfilled the technical criteria to become members of the White Schengen List, according to the EC.
The Commission wants a measure [visa liberalization] but will not be dealing with its negative impacts,” an unnamed high-level French diplomat told Le Monde earlier this month. French State Secretary for European Affairs Pierre Lellouche called the visa policy a “matter of security” in a speech to the French parliament on September 29. He said that France would request “security guarantees” from Albania and Bosnia before it will support visa liberalization.
Visa liberalisation for Serbia, Montenegro and Macedonia was granted in January this year and led to a spike in asylum claims in Belgium filed by citizens mainly from Serbia and Macedonia. In recent weeks it has emerged that Sweden has become the latest destination for Serbians seeking asylum. According to local reports, of the 22,045 applicants that have sought asylum in Sweden this year, about 4,000 declared Serbian citizenship, compared with 421 in the same period last year.