From: Bledar Qalliu
NGOs Ask Macron to Finally Grant Free Movement to Kosovo Citizens

All major non-governmental organizations in Kosovo have addressed a letter to French President Emmanuel Macron asking that the EU lift the visa regime for Kosovo citizens, the only people in Europe still not allowed to travel freely despite having met all requirements for visa liberalization. 

After congratulating Macron for his reelection as President of France, the 81 signatories reminded the president that ten years have passed since Kosovo started the process of liberalizing visas with the countries of the Schengen area.

This process has lasted longer for Kosovo than for “all Western Balkan countries combined, multiplied by two,” they noted.

“We the citizens of Kosovo looked with despair at the citizens of other countries in the region enjoying their right to move freely through the EU. And when the time finally came in 2012 to start the visa liberalization process, Kosovo was handed a roadmap that contained twice as many criteria as for other Western Balkan countries. Nevertheless, over the next six years Kosovo met all the criteria for visa liberalization. This was officially confirmed in July 2018, and was subsequently reconfirmed several times by the European Commission and the European Parliament,” they highlighted.

All EU member states must vote in favor in order for the visa regime to be lifted. A number of countries— most notably France, the Netherlands, Denmark, and Belgium—have, at different stages, opposed lifting the visa regime for Kosovo, claiming an unsatisfactory fight against corruption.

For the sake of illustrating the process, both Kosovo and Georgia began talks with the EU on the matter at the same time, back in 2012. Five years later, in 2017, Georgians were granted free movement to Europe.

Macron’s elections for a second term has been met with enthusiasm and cautious optimism in Kosovo, with many experts claiming that France may soon finally throw its support behind visa liberalization for Kosovo as well.

The European Parliament and European Commission have continuously given their support for visa-free movement for Kosovo people since 2018.