EU foreign ministers green-light visa liberalisation for Western Balkans

LUXEMBOURG

EU foreign ministers gave Serbia, Macedonia and Montenegro the green light for visa liberalisation on Monday (June 15th).

“The ministers encouraged the European Commission [EC] to launch a procedure to scrap visa requirements for compliant countries with a view of achieving a visa-free regime, ideally by the end of 2009,” Czech Foreign Minister Jan Kohout, whose country is wrapping up its term as EU president, said after the meeting in Luxembourg.

Macedonia is considered to be the most advanced in meeting the necessary liberalisation conditions, including document security, external relations and fundamental rights. Montenegro and Serbia have met a majority of the conditions, and are expected to make further progress by the end of the year. Albania and Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) will most likely be left off the list, while Kosovo is not even in the running.

At the Luxembourg meeting, EU foreign ministers also praised BiH High Representative Valentin Inzko for his efforts to facilitate progress in the country. Ministers also reiterated their support for BiH’s EU accession, and called on all political leaders in the country to refrain from nationalist rhetoric and focus on the implementation of the necessary reforms.

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