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Dialogue between the European Commission and Kosovo on visa liberalisation may start by the beginning of 2012, a European diplomat told Balkan Insight.
Dialogue with the European Commission on Kosovo's entry into the passport-free Schengen zone of the EU may start next year, instead of being launched this year, a European diplomat told Balkan Insight.
The European Commission in October pledged to instigate the process by the end of 2011, but this may now be moved to January, the diplomat said.
“The objective is to initiate the dialogue on visa-liberalization with Kosovo," he said.
"But everything will depend on the December 9 meeting [of EU leaders], and it is possible that the process will only commence next January.”
In its Progress Report for Kosovo, published in October, Brussels said Kosovo had reached enough goals for the talks process to start.
EU Foreign Ministers met on Monday in Brussels ahead of the December 9 summit of heads of state and government.
The conclusions of the Council of ministers on Monday reaffirmed the EU's belief that “Kosovo will also benefit from the perspective of eventual visa liberalisation once all conditions are met.”
The Council of ministers said it welcomed "the intention of the Commission to launch a visa dialogue without prejudice to the Member States' positions on [Kosovo's] status towards the end of the year, if all conditions are effectively fulfilled".
Khaldoun Sinno, acting head of the European Commission Liaison Office to Kosovo, told Balkan Insight that the conclusions of the Council of Ministersa were welcome and positive.
In that light, the question of the timing of talks was not a big problem, he said.
“We have to see what next week brings but the commitment to visa dialogue stands," he said. "We shall see after December 9".
While travel agents gear up to cash in on Albanians traveling westwards, experts say the outflow of currency may harm the struggling local economy.
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.