Liberalization of visas a double standard for Kosovo?

Liberalization of visas a double standard for Kosovo?

IBNA Special Report

Pristina, March 26, 2015/Independent Balkan News Agency

By Elton Tota

Kosovo has remained the last country in the region as far as the freedom of movement of its citizens in the European Union is concerned.

But, the overcoming of this situation, according to Brussels requires much work for the fulfillment of the criteria in order to involve Kosovo in the visa free regime.

EU Enlargement Commissioner, Johannes Hahn was asked during his visit to Pristina about the issue of the liberalization of visas, for which he said that the necessary criteria for such process must be met.

According to him, no people should be blamed for this, because this doesn’t help in finding alternatives.

He added that the phenomenon of people leaving Kosovo must be stopped and citizens must be persuaded not to migrate, because this will be discussed when the political evaluation for the liberalization of visas is done.

Meanwhile, Pristina doesn’t feel responsible when it comes to the process of visas and unlawful emigration.

Minister of Interior, Skender Hyseni says that the issue of visas is a political problem which relates to member countries that are yet to recognize Kosovo.

According to him, the new motive that the EU gives for not granting the liberalization of visas relates to the number of asylum seekers from Albania, FYROM, Serbia and Montenegro.

Minister of Foreign Affairs of Kosovo, Hashim Thaci says that the conditioning is without any doubt important in the process of enlargement, but it must also be accompanied with concrete support for the results that have been achieved.

“Kosovo is waiting to be granted the liberalization of visas, a process which has been unfairly delayed in the recent years. Although we had to deliver more criteria than the countries of the region, we have not yet been granted the visa free regime, something which makes us think that double standards are being used”, he said.

Part of this process is also Tirana. Albanian PM, Edi Rama, declared a few days ago that the European Union has created the “island” of Kosovo by not allowing free movement of the citizens of this country.

“We have said it and we will always say it. The visa regime applied to Kosovo today is a cynical injustice and this injustice must end as soon as possible, because it doesn’t only threaten the dignity of the people of Kosovo, but also the dignity of Europe itself. The application of the visa regime for Kosovo is a shame for the European Union”, Rama said.

Meanwhile, experts of political developments in Pristina told IBNA that when it comes to the lifting of the visa regime, the EU uses double standards for Kosovo.

Political analyst, Vilhard Shala says that the criteria imposed by the European Commission for the liberalization of visas have not been delivered by other countries of the region.

“The guideline talks about the security of documents, public order and security, migration, repatriation and management of borders, the principle of good neighboring relations and other criteria. These criteria have not been met by other countries who can move freely in the Shenghen area. For these countries, the EU has taken political decisions, by breaking its principles, while such thing is not happening for Kosovo”, Shala says.

According to him, Kosovo is on the same level of development as other countries of the region, which are facing corruption, organized crime, migration, bilateral contests, etc.

“If the EU was strict about its criteria, then the region would not be ready to move in the Shenghen area even in ten year’s time. The EU must enable free movement for citizens of Kosovo. This would reduce migration, while it would be used for study visits, academic visits, business visits and so on”, he says.

The same opinion is shared by professor of European law and analyst Llokman Murtezani.

He told IBNA that Kosovo must not remain the only isolated country and that the fast liberalization of the visa regime is in the best interest of the citizens of Kosovo and the countries of the European Union, who are facing large numbers of Kosovo migrants.

“In spite of the obstacles due to the failure to meet technical criteria and standards and due to the fact t hat five EU member countries have not yet recognized the independence of Kosovo, modalities must be found through which Kosovo will be included in the schemes of the liberalization of visas”, he said. /ibna/