In a significant development, Kosovo's Prime Minister, Albin Kurti, has officially inaugurated an informative campaign aimed at educating Kosovars about the rules and regulations governing visa-free travel to the Schengen Area. This campaign represents the culmination of a long-awaited process that paves the way for the implementation of the visa-free agreement. Prime Minister Kurti has unequivocally stated that this historic agreement will come into full effect on January 1, 2024.
"After a long wait and much hard work, especially over the past two years, visa liberalization for our citizens is finally becoming a reality on January 1. Today, in collaboration with our partners, we have launched an information campaign to acquaint our citizens with the rules of visa-free travel, preparing them for the opportunities that lie ahead," announced Albin Kurti.
This landmark development means that Kosovo will join its Western Balkan neighbors in enjoying visa-free travel to European Union (EU) countries. Commencing on January 1, 2024, individuals holding Kosovo passports will have the privilege of visiting EU Schengen Zone nations for short-term stays, allowing them to remain in these countries for up to 90 days within a 180-day period from the date of entry. This visa-free travel option encompasses a wide range of purposes, including tourism, business activities, family visits, participation in cultural and sporting events, and official visits.
The European Union officially granted approval for the visa-free travel agreement for Kosovo passport holders in April of this year. However, concerns were raised following remarks by French President Emmanuel Macron, who indicated that France might reconsider its commitments concerning visa-related political and economic matters concerning both Kosovo and Serbia.
These comments elicited criticism from Viola von Cramon, the Rapporteur for Kosovo in the European Parliament. Von Cramon underscored that the visa liberalization process should remain entirely separate from the ongoing dialogue with Serbia. On a similar note, Kosovo's President, Vjosa Osmani, issued a stern warning that any suspension of visa-free travel to the EU for Kosovars would effectively derail the dialogue with Serbia, perhaps irreparably.
Both Kosovo and Serbia aspire to attain EU membership, and Brussels has consistently emphasized that the resolution of their disputes must occur through a mediated dialogue process. Kosovo officially submitted its application for EU membership on December 14, 2021, and is currently awaiting the finalization of this intricate procedure. Gunther Fehlinger, the Chair of the European Committee for NATO (NGO), has voiced optimism, stating that Kosovo could potentially become a full-fledged member of the EU by 2029.
The launch of this informative campaign holds immense significance as it prepares Kosovars for visa-free travel to the Schengen Area, opening up a world of opportunities for tourism, business engagement, and cultural exchanges. This development marks a significant milestone in Kosovo's journey toward closer integration with the European Union.
By fLEXI tEAM