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"Remove visas for Kosovo citizens who have Serbian passports" - The Kurti Government opposes the proposal of the EC: To be reviewed!
Written by SOT.COM.AL 21 Nëntor 2023
The Government of Kosovo says that it is concerned with the proposal of the European Commission to remove visas for the holders of Serbian passports, who reside in the territory of Kosovo. The executive asked the European Union to reconsider this proposal.
Through a reaction published on social networks, the Deputy Prime Minister of Kosovo, Besnik Bislimi, said that this EC proposal for passports that are issued "by the so-called Serbian Coordinating Directorate" has not been discussed with the Government of Kosovo.
"Illegal passports issued by the Coordination Center of Serbia consider municipalities within Kosovo to be part of Serbia's jurisdiction, this is a violation of our sovereignty and unacceptable," said Bislimi.
He said that the Government of Kosovo invites the EU to "treat these documents as illegal as it treats the rest of the parallel documentation".
The EC proposal was argued with the fact that visa liberalization will start to be implemented on January 1, 2023.
But, Bislimi said that the liberalization of visas for Kosovo does not mean that members of the Serbian community will remain without liberalization, as they, according to him, can be equipped with passports issued by Kosovo.
"Our government has already put into practice an accelerated procedure for equipping all Kosovo Serbs with passports. Recently, a high interest and increase in the number of citizens who have been provided with Kosovo passports has been seen. Compared to last year, we have an increase of 29 percent", said Bislimi, adding that they have addressed this objection in the highest instances of the EU.
Serbs from Kosovo have the right to the passport of Serbia, which received visa liberalization in 2009. However, at the request of the EU, it was necessary to form a Coordinating Administration for the issuance of passports for those with an address in Kosovo.
In April of this year, the EC emphasized that the visa liberalization approved for Kosovo applies only to holders of Kosovo passports and not to those citizens who have passports of the Coordinating Administration, which works within the Ministry of Internal Affairs. of Serbia.
But, in the new proposal, the EC has argued that there are no longer any reasons due to which it was decided that holders of passports of the Republic of Serbia residing in Kosovo will not be able to travel without a visa, unlike citizens of Serbia with residence in Serbia.
Regarding the EC's proposal, more than 20 civil society organizations reacted earlier on November 21.
Through an open letter addressed to Ylva Johansson, European Commissioner for Internal Affairs, civil society has requested that the EC withdraw the proposal.
In the civil society's letter, among other things, it is stated that this proposal will "seriously challenge the progress in the integration of Kosovo Serb citizens" through the provision of Kosovo documents and "will promote and encourage the criminal structures operating in the northern part of of Kosovo to continue with threats and intimidation of the Serbian citizens of Kosovo who intend to integrate into the social and political life of the country".
From January 1, 2024, citizens of Kosovo are expected to travel without visas to 27 EU countries, which make up the so-called Schengen area.
After the liberalization of visas for holders of biometric passports of the Republic of Kosovo comes into force, holders of Serbian passports residing in Kosovo, if the EC proposal is not implemented, would remain the only ones without the possibility of visa-free movement./ REL