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Despite a lengthy public campaign about the EU visa liberalisation process, hundreds of Albanians have been turned back at the border over the past two days because they lacked the necessary documents to travel.
Over 100 travellers were refused entry into Greece in the Kakavija border crossing on Thursday alone, local media reports said. Many hopeful travellers lacked the required travel insurance, or the exact address of the family member that will host them across the border.
However, some travellers were turned back by new requirements set forth by Greek police at certain border crossings, such as proof of a criminal background check of a member of the host family.
Over 1,300 Albanians have used their newfound freedom to travel to the Schengen zone in the last two days, according to data published by the general directorate of police.
Visa-free travel to the EU took effect on Wednesday, allowing Albanian citizens to travel to a total of 28 nations that are either inside Europe’s borderless Schengen zone or aspire to join it.
Travel agents have noted that a significant share of the reservations are made by elderly parents visiting their sons and daughters that reside in neighboring Greece or Italy.
In order to make the trip, Albanians must hold a biometric passport, proof of health insurance and necessary funds to cover the cost of travel and their visit. According to Albania’s Ministry of Interior, more than 1.2 million citizens had applied for the new biometric passports as of November 5.
Kosovo’s government stresses that it has fulfilled the criteria set by the European Commission on visa liberalisation, as it gears up for an expected EC mission in December.