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News 21 Feb 14

Kosovo Told to Cut Flow of EU Asylum Seekers

Tanja Fajon, former European Parliament rapporteur for visa liberalisation, has called on the authorities in Pristina to curb the flow of people from Kosovo seeking asylum in the European Union.

Edona Peci

Fajon told Kosovo that it needs to work harder on stemming the flow of people from the country seeking asylum in the EU.

“Everything has been done to make that people do not abuse [asylum procedures] or try to go out of the country asking for asylum”, the MEP said in Pristina on Thursday. “It is necessary to fight this,” she added.

Although Kosovo has signed readmission agreements with several EU states, people from the country continue to seek asylum in the block in relatively large numbers, with more than 17,000 applications in 2013.

The European Commission launched its visa liberalization dialogue with Kosovo on January 19, 2012 and handed over a so-called roadmap on June 14.

An EU commission is expected to visit Pristina next month in order to see what progress has been made in implementing criteria set in the document on the ground.

However, Fajon said that, “it is not only what the EU institutions do, but it’s mainly what Kosovo authorities have to do and it’s still a lot of work to be done”.

In the current circumstances, she said it would be “premature” to give any timeline by when Kosovo could see the abolition of visas with the EU.

“Speaking about a date is simply not productive,” Fajon said.

So far, the EU has concluded visa facilitation agreements with eleven non-EU countries.

Kosovo is now the only country in the Western Balkans whose citizens are excluded from a visa-free travel regime with the EU's Schengen area.

The EU lifted visas on Albania and Bosnia in 2010. Visa requirements were lifted for Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia a year earlier.

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