As the scrapping of visas for citizens traveling to the European Union is set to become official on Friday at midnight, Macedonians celebrate with a massive party in Skopje’s main square and a state lottery for a free trip to Paris. Friday night has been declared a “white night,” meaning that all clubs and bars will remain open until the early morning hours in celebration of the long-awaited scrapping of EU visas.
The central celebration will be held in the capital Skopje, where British DJ Fat Boy slim – a pioneers of electronic dance music, will perform at the main square, along with popular Balkan musician Zdravko Colic.
On Thursday evening, a state-sponsored lottery was held, and the 100 lucky winners will join a government delegation one a one-day trip to Paris to mark the occasion.
Deputy Prime Minister in charge of EU Integration Vasko Naumovski and Interior Minister Gordana Jankulovska, as well as 20 of the cournthy’s best students, will accompany the lottery winners.
Some 10,000 people played the lottery.
The EU recently lifted visa obligations for three Balkan states, Macedonia, Serbia and Montenegro. The holders of the new biometric passports with increased security standards will be entitled to visa-free travel to 25 members of the 27-nation bloc, except for Britain and Ireland.
Macedonians will also travel freely to Norway, Switzerland and Iceland, which are not part of the EU but apply the same visa regime.
The steep visa wall for most of the Balkans was introduced in the early 1990s during the bloody breakup of the former Socialist Federative Republic of Yugoslavia, of which Macedonia was a part.
The lifting of the visa wall is seen as a step towards eventual full EU membership for these three countries.