Between 24 and 27 June 2009, ESI hosted in Istanbul a seminar for ten analysts involved in ESI's Schengen White List Project. The participants discussed in detail the situation and public opinion related to visa roadmap implementation in each of the five Western Balkan countries participating in the EU's visa liberalisation process, as well as in Kosovo, which has been left out from the process. ESI also presented the finalised analyses of the Commission assessments of the situation and reports by EU national experts.
The analysts planned activities in the second half of 2009. They agreed to put particular emphasis on Albania and Bosnia and Herzegovina, the two countries that have not yet met the visa roadmap conditions; on Kosovo, which needs to be given a roadmap to carry out the same reforms as the other countries to the benefit not only of the Balkans, but also the EU; and to continue to keep a close eye on Serbia and Montenegro. They also agreed to closely follow the discussion of the forthcoming Commission proposal on visa-free travel in the European Parliament and among the EU member states and to intervene when opportune and necessary. The Commission proposal, expected in the coming weeks, will most likely propose Macedonia with no condition, and Montenegro and Serbia on condition that a few outstanding benchmarks are met in the coming months, for visa-free travel from early 2009 onward.
The participants of the seminar included:
- Gerald Knaus, ESI chairman
- Alexandra Stiglmayer, project director and ESI senior analyst
- Anjeza Hoxhallari, ESI analyst
- Kristof Gosztonyi, consultant for the White List Project
- Dejan Anastasijevic, journalist and author, Serbia
- Engjellushe Morina, Kosovo Stability Initiative, Kosovo
- Goran Tirak, Populari, Bosnia and Herzegovina
- Ilir Qorri, European Movement in Albania, Albania
- Sanja Kostovska, Centre for Research and Policymaking, Macedonia
- Selman Adzovic, Centre for Civic Education, Montenegro
ESI is grateful to the Robert Bosch Stiftung for supporting the ESI Schengen White List Project.