16 October 2009
ESI in Visby: the Eastern Partnership and visa liberalisation
Carl Bildt, Temuri Yakobashvili, and Yuliya Tymoshenko
Carl Bildt, Temuri Yakobashvili, and Yuliya Tymoshenko

Gerald Knaus was invited to Visby, Sweden, for the annual conference arranged by the Jarl Hjalmarson Foundation on developments in Eastern Europe. This year’s focus was on the Eastern Partnership.

In his contribution, he explained that the Balkan countries, which have fought for an increased freedom of visas to the European Union, will be able to travel freely into the EU member states within a year. For some of the countries, this might come true already from the turn of the year.

Previously, the interior ministers in the EU countries used to block visa reform, referring to security measures, while the ministers for foreign affairs used to argue in favour of it. However, two years ago, the EU decided to state certain criteria for countries aiming for visa freedom. This has been a success. Today, three out of six Balkan countries have already implemented the EU-criteria - Macedonia has fulfilled all the criteria whereas Serbia and Montenegro have managed to realize most of them.

Countries like Georgia and Turkey should try to get the permission to start the same "strict but fair" process.

Among the guests were: Carl Bildt, Swedish Minister for Foreign Affairs, Temuri Yakobashvili, Georgian Minister of Reintegration, and Yuliya Tymoshenko, Ukrainian Prime Minister.

Jarl Hjalmarson Foundation

About us
Photo credits
Alan Grant is an Irish photographer who travelled extensively in the Balkans and other countries and regions of the world. Thanks to him, ESI is able to show fascinating pictures of the Balkans: the facades of Tirana, the painted mosques of Travnik, the fabulous old houses of Plovdiv and the spectacular blue of water - dark in the Bay of Kotor, emerald in the river valleys of Bosnia, deep blue in Ohrid, twinkling in the Aegean Sea and on the Bosporus.

You can find out more about Alan Grant on his websites:
Jonathan Lewis lives between London and Istanbul. He moved to London and spent many years studying photography and now specialises in photojournalism, documentary photography and commercial work for a wide variety of private and commercial clients in the UK, Europe and Turkey. His work has appeared in a number of magazines and publications and is used on the ESI website as well.

You can find out more about Jonathan Lewis on his website www.jonathanlewisphoto.com