Belgrade should make decisions on the issuance of passports to Kosovo residents, Serbian Interior Minister Ivica Dacic says.
“We have received with sorrow the news that visa liberalisation will not include Kosovo and Metohija residents, but the EC [European Commission] considers that the conditions for people in Kosovo to travel without visas [to the EU do not exist] since Kosovo hasn’t received a visa roadmap,” the agency quoted Dacic as saying.
Under last month’s EC proposal, EU visa restrictions will be lifted for Macedonian, Montenegrin and Serbian citizens from next January. Serbia would be able to issue biometric passports to Kosovo residents, but they would have to acquire European visas in order to be able to enter the Schengen zone.
In an open letter a private institute, the European Stability Initiative, said that 3.5 million Serbs living outside Serbia – including Bosnian Serbs – will be eligible to receive Serbian passports allowing visa-free travel within the EU, while Kosovo residents will not.
Serbian Deputy Prime Minister Bozidar Djelic announced in July that Serbia has four technical conditions to fulfil by September 30 in order for its citizens to enjoy visa-free travel to the EU from next year. One of the conditions is that procedures are implemented for issuing biometric passports to Serbian citizens living in Kosovo.
Since the Serbian Interior Ministry has no jurisdiction over Kosovo under UN Resolution 1244, Serbia needs to sign an operational agreement with the EU rule of law mission, EULEX, under UN auspices, drawing an administrative line between Serbia and Kosovo, Djelic explained earlier.
Dacic stressed the importance of signing an accord on Kosovo border controls, saying this is fundamental in efforts to fight organised crime and weapons smuggling and, as such, must be free of politics.
He added that passports for Serbian citizens with Kosovo residency will be issued at the Coordination Body for Kosovo office.