Fajon: Kosovo must become visa-free

22/10/2010

European Parliament rapporteur Tanja Fajon says it is essential to include Kosovo in the Schengen process and she urges Pristina to meet EU criteria.

By Muhamet Brajshori for Southeast European Times in Pristina -- 22/10/10

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"We need to find a way to include Kosovo in the process," said the European Parliament's rapporteur on visa liberalisation for the Western Balkans, Tanja Fajon. She insisted that non-recognition by some member states should not be an obstacle. [AFP]

The process of Kosovo joining the Schengen zone will not be obstructed by the fact that five EU member countries have not recognised its independence, the European Parliament's rapporteur on visa liberalisation for the Western Balkans, Tanja Fajon, said on Thursday (October 21st) after a meeting with Interior Minister Bajram Rexhepi.

The previous day, she met with acting Kosovo President Jakup Krasniqi.

"Kosovo will remain very isolated if it is not included, and I am certain that there will be great disappointment among the people," Fajon said after their talks. "Therefore, we need to find a way to include Kosovo in the process."

"I hope that November 10th, two days after the ministers will take a decision on Albania and Bosnia and Herzegovina, will be an excellent time to give Kosovo authorities and citizens the good news," she said.

However, she added, Kosovo must strive to meet EU guidelines, and she urged Kosovo institutions to undertake a campaign to educate citizens about the visa-free regime.

"I just came back from a ministerial conference in Slovenia, where I talked to my colleagues and we agreed that the EU must give Kosovo clear guidance on the steps to be taken," Fajon said. Kosovo institutions must continue [to implement] reforms and fulfill the duties assigned by the 2009 Progress Report, she said.

She noted that there are many reasons why Kosovo is currently out of the process -- including border security issues and a lack of biometric passports.

"We all know that this process is long and tiring, but the strategy should be given to Kosovars in order to proceed with the completion of tasks," Fajon said.

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Rexhepi has criticised the EC for not delivering a strategy for visa-free status.

He referred to EU Enlargement Director for Kosovo Pierre Mirel's promise that the country would receive the plan by mid-September.

"The European Commission has eaten their words," Rexhepi said.

According to him, Kosovo has met all technical requirements for obtaining visa-free travel.

This content was commissioned for SETimes.com.
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