Valid for up to 90 days – European Parliament voted in favor of visa exemption for Kosovo

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The European Parliament voted on Tuesday to grant a visa waiver for citizens of Kosovo. This should apply for a maximum of 90 days from 1 January 2024. So far, Kosovo is the only country in the Western Balkans without a visa waiver.

The European Commission had already proposed this in 2016. Accordingly, MEPs are now also talking about a “long-awaited” move. “The EU had imposed almost a hundred conditions on the Republic of Kosovo, some of which had nothing to do with passenger transport. Nevertheless, the conditions were met. The European Parliament subsequently voted for visa liberalization several times,” said ÖVP MEP Lukas Mandl.

Yet the governments would not have agreed to keep their promise to the people of Kosovo for a long time. The war in Ukraine was probably the “trigger factor” for granting the country visa-free travel after the other Western Balkan countries and Ukraine. This should apply for up to 90 days across the EU from 1 January 2024. Kosovo Prime Minister Albin Kurti welcomed “great news” on Twitter. This brings his country “an important step closer to the European Union (…)”.

FPÖ: attraction for economic migrants
Green MEP Thomas Waitz spoke of a “day of joy for Kosovo” and that rapprochement with the EU would continue to be supported. The FPÖ, on the other hand, sees a “serious mistake”. “Kosovo is a model country of corruption, crime and especially illegal people smuggling into Austria,” said the Liberal Head of Delegation in the EU Parliament, Harald Vilimsky. The new regulation would attract “Kosovar economic refugees”.

In a broadcast, the chairman of the Vienna FPÖ, Maximilian Krauss, even described Kosovo as a “failed state that also has no place in the EU”. The security situation is questionable. Austria’s Foreign Ministry welcomed the vote on Twitter, calling it an “important milestone” for the EU’s perspective. “The next step is the agreement on normalizing relations with Serbia. In this area too, the EU dialogue can make a necessary contribution to relaxation”, said the head of the SPÖ delegation, Andreas Schieder.

Source: Krone

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