Czech EU Presidency to discuss free visa for Kosovo

The Czech EU Presidency will reopen the discussion on visa liberalisation for Kosovo this autumn according to Czech Foreign Minister Jan Lipavský (Pirates, Greens/EFA) and Kosovo’s foreign ministry.

The topic should be discussed this autumn as soon as the European Commission finalises the updated version of its report on Kosovo’s preparedness.

Kosovo remains the only country in the Western Balkans and Europe that does not enjoy visa liberalisation despite having met the conditions several years ago. Pushback reportedly comes from France, but also a handful of countries that do not accept its independence from Serbia including Greece, Romania, Spain, Cyprus and Slovakia, mainly due to their own territorial disputes.

“Kosovo, which I will visit this week, is the last Western Balkan country whose citizens still need visas for travelling to the EU. Yet the goal of the Czech Republic and the EU is to integrate the Western Balkan countries into the EU. Our presidency is an opportunity to push the entire integration process forward,” Lipavský said, quoted by the Czech News Agency.

It is expected the topic will be on the table in the autumn as soon as the European Commission finalises the updated version of its report on Kosovo’s preparedness.

“Therefore, the Czech Presidency is counting on the fact that if the so-called technical update of the report on Kosovo’s readiness for visa liberalisation, which the European Commission is currently finalising, is successful, the matter will be taken up again by the Member States during the autumn,” Czech Minister explained.

A qualified majority of at least 15 member states representing 65% of EU citizens is necessary to approve visa liberalisation.

Kosovo’s Prime Minister Albin Kurti has also said the country will apply to become a EU candidate by the end of 2022, a move that is likely to stir discontent with neighbouring Serbia who is currently negotiating membership, albeit slowly.

(Aneta Zachová | EURACTIV.cz, Alice Taylor | EURACTIV.com)

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