Voices in support of visa-free travel
Civil society organisations have twice – on 20 July 2009 and on 24 June 2010 - issued appeals calling on the EU to offer Kosovo a visa liberalisation process based on a roadmap.
On 20 July 2009, they stated:
"We are aware that EU member states disagree over the status of Kosovo. Indeed, the signatories of this letter also have different views on this subject.
"However, we can all agree that leaving Kosovo residents, whatever their ethnicity, trapped in a visa ghetto, when all other Balkan people from the Adriatic to the Black Sea are able to travel freely, would be a disastrous policy. [...]
"The EU should offer a roadmap leading to visa liberalisation to Kosovo. After all, if Kosovo can be put on the Schengen Black List without agreement among EU states on its status, then surely it can also be put on the Schengen White List, provided it fulfils the necessary conditions."
On 24 June 2010, they wrote:
"A year has passed, since our last appeal; we have been given many promises but Kosovo remains the only country in the region still excluded from the visa liberalisation process.
"While all the other countries have advanced considerably, with Macedonia, Serbia and Montenegro enjoying visa free travel and Bosnia Herzegovina and Albania expected to follow soon, we are as isolated today as we have been in summer 2009. All of us, regardless of ethnicity, feel trapped and forgotten.
"We understand the security concerns of European member states and the European Commission. We are supportive of their demands on our government to combat crime and illegal migration, and to ensure that all returnees are received in dignity. We appreciate the efforts of our own government to unilaterally prepare a visa roadmap. But we do not understand why Kosovo has still not been given a visa roadmap and told what exactly is expected of our government in terms of concrete reforms."
Statement by Vilson Mirdita
"As the Charge d'Affaires of the Embassy of the Republic of Kosovo in Germany, I am in daily contact with Kosovars living in Germany and those who want to reach Germany for various reasons. Having to apply and wait for a travel visa is an enormous burden to these people's lives.
In a lot of cases Kosovars get rejected a visa by the respective authorities and are subsequently banned from visiting their relatives, they lose their university placement, or miss out on a great job opportunity. And now, when all their neighbors benefit from visa free travel, it will be even harder for those who want to travel from Kosovo to be faced with visa rejections.
I personally share the happiness of our neighbors, who achieved visa liberalization after they complied with the EU criteria. Being in close contact with the Kosovo Ministry of Interior, I am aware that Kosovo authorities are working very hard to include Kosovo into the White Schengen List. I am confident that with serious guiding and assistance from the EU we can achieve visa liberalization for Kosovo as well.
However, for that to happen, we need a clear and an open offer by the EU, with a clear set of criteria which Kosovo needs to meet. Coming from a science background, I am aware of the importance of recipes, which serve as a guide when addressing any issue. I am kindly hereby asking the EU to issue the 'visa free' recipe for Kosovo, and in turn to monitor closely the fulfilling of conditions for visa liberalization.
The process has to start, now! On the contrary, I am afraid that Kosovo may fall behind the rest of the region, and that consequently people might feel compelled to fall back on clandestine solutions to travel to the EU."
Dr. Vilson Mirdita, Charge d'Affaires of the Embassy of Republic of Kosovo
Statement by Vilson Mirdita