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Interview 19 Jun 17

MEP Urges Kosovo To Work on Visa Liberalisation

In an interview with BIRN, MEP Tanjа Fajon urges Kosovo's politicians to take decisive action - if they want their citizens to eventually enjoy visa-free travel into the EU's passport-free Schengen area.

Fatjona Mejdini
MPE, Tanja Fajon. Photo: Fajon's Twitter account 

Tanja Fajon, the European Parliament’s rapporteur for Kosovo on the process of visa liberalization, told BIRN that the time when Kosovo citizens will be able to travel freely in the EU's Schengen area depends on various factors.

She said that Kosovo which must complete the controversial border demarcation agreement with Montenegro and fight corruption - all at a time when the atmosphere on the European side is far less encouraging than it once was when it comes to open borders.

"We have a lot of problems resulting from several crises going on, like the recent migration crisis, and like some interior border controls that have been introduced, limiting the freedom of movement in Europe," she noted.

"In such circumstances, it is, of course, more difficult to get new countries inside the visa-free regime," Fajon said.

However, she said everybody expects the Kosovo politicians to start to deliver on the most important criteria set out by the EU as conditions for moving forward.

"If Kosovo delivers one of the issues that are on the table, we can go step by step. Maybe that is not going to happen soon but it is time is to deliver. I don’t see any other way out in this complex situation," she said.

The Slovenian MPE also said that alternative solutions might be found for the heated issue of border demarcation with Montenegro, although Kosovo politicians would be advised to find a united stand before deciding this.

"I’m not an expert in border issues but if it's not possible to make this agreement on border demarcation, then it's necessary to find an alternative - but the consensus has to come from the ground in Kosovo, from everybody," she said.

Fajon also said that in Europe there was a "feeling that this [border isue] is also part of the political game in Kosovo.

"I want to send a message: please work for the citizens in Kosovo because this is something that we all want and they expect us to deliver on," she said.

Fajon said that she remained hopeful that, within the next two years, while she holds the role of rapporteur for visa liberalisation, free movement can become possible.

But she described various declarations by Kosovo politicians, setting dates for lifting EU visa restrictions, as irresponsible.

"I find promising the date ... very irresponsible ... and I would say to Kosovo politicians to refrain from such promises because as when we make promises as politicians, people expect us to deliver, and they will judge us on that," she said.

During the recent election campaign in Kosovo, the candidate for Prime Minister from the PAN coalition, Ramush Haradinaj, said that if their side won the election, visa liberalisation could be resolved within three months.

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