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Pristina says new regime will improve internal security and ease the path leading to eventual EU membership.
Kosovo has established a visa regime for citizens of 87 countries, starting from July, which it says will have a positive impact on internal security and on the path toward EU accession. The system was announced in May in 2012.
Authorities have yet to release the list of the 87 countries affected, but, according to the daily Koha Ditore, it includes Russia, China, Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen, Lebanon, Libya and Syria.
Visas will not be required of any neighbouring countries, or of nationals of the five European Union countries that have not recognized Kosovo's independence, namely, Spain, Greece, Cyprus, Romania and Slovakia.
“Through the visa system, potential dangerous elements can be identified and stopped,” Artan Behrami, a spokesperson for the Kosovo Foreign Ministry, told SETimes.
“This regime is expected to have a positive impact in reducing the possibilities that… Kosovo be used as a transit country for trafficking of human beings and as a transit country for illegal immigration towards the EU countries,” Behrami added.
Kosovo’s Foreign Ministry has noted that the EU expects candidate countries to demonstrate effective control of their borders, transit of foreigners and identification and neutralisation of the potential security threats.
Kosovo is the only country in the region whose nationals still need visas to enter the EU’s passport-free Schengen area. Removal of the current visa requirements is seen by the government as a priority for the coming year.
The Hague Tribunal has been successful in bringing wartime commanders to justice but hasn’t met expectations on reconciliation, chief prosecutor Serge Brammertz told BIRN.