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Debates
Wednesday, 27 March 2019 - Strasbourg Revised edition

Listing the third countries whose nationals must be in possession of visas when crossing the external borders and those whose nationals are exempt from that requirement (Kosovo) (debate)
MPphoto
 

  Tanja Fajon, Rapporteur. – Mr President, today in this House we are once again discussing visa liberalisation for Kosovo. It is a very sensitive and very difficult topic because Kosovo is the last country of the Western Balkans that still hasn’t seen visas abolished for free travel to the European Union.

I would like to remind us all that Kosovo met all the requirements for a visa-free regime a long time ago, and this House, the European Parliament, also gave the green light for Kosovo’s visa-free regime a while ago. The European Commission recognised that Kosovo has met all the criteria, and I would like to remind you that Kosovo had more conditions than any other countries of the Western Balkans. Kosovo met the last two remaining sensitive issues some months ago – one was to ratify the demarcation of the border agreement with Montenegro – which were highly sensitive and political issues. But they managed to achieve it, including with a fight against corruption in high political elites.

That’s why I strongly recommend that tomorrow we reconfirm visa liberalisation for this country. To be very frank, today all the other countries of the Western Balkans have visa—free regimes. It is a very important message for the citizens of the accession countries because it is not only important for political and economic contacts, but it is important for people—to-people contacts.

Today Kosovo is the most isolated country in the Western Balkans. We are just talking about visa liberalisation. I don’t want to discuss other issues that Kosovo is dealing with today because, with intention, we have to focus on what Kosovo has delivered. So today I will, with all my criticism, point to the European governments and say that didn’t deliver their promise. Their promise was that, once Kosovo meets the criteria, we will deliver a visa-free regime.

I would like to ask the Council – and no one is present here – why they didn’t put it on the agenda, and when they are planning to put it on the agenda. We are losing our credibility. To be very frank, politicians, businessmen or potential criminals don’t wait for visas. They travel freely. What we are discussing is visa-free travel for those who are in need, with certain limitations of course. Visa-free travel has certain limitations and people in Kosovo are aware of that.

The campaign is ongoing and we have to deliver what we promised. I would remind you that, in other cases – when we delivered visa liberalisation to Ukraine or to other countries overnight – it was an easy political decision, and now the European governments are blocking a little country in the Western Balkans without real reasons.

So I would encourage us all, because we are finishing our term in office, to reconfirm tomorrow the mandate you already gave me and this is that we support visa—free for Kosovo. Once again, the country has met all the conditions. The European Commission recognised that, but today it is the European governments that aren’t acting. We have too many cases today where the European governments are blocking our credible European policies and visa policy is something that is really at the heart of Europeans. It is something that is very tangible.

I understand the frustration of citizens in Kosovo when they feel that we asked them to deliver something and they did deliver, but now we aren’t acting. Not the European Parliament. We did our task, but the task is now in the hands of the European governments.

So my message to you tomorrow, when we vote for the mandate and reconfirm it and conclude the first reading, is: please support it because people in Kosovo are watching us and they are watching us with great expectations and hopes.

 
Zadnja posodobitev: 28. junij 2019Pravno obvestilo