Croatia and Kosovo Team Up to Push EU Visa Liberalization

Kosovo on map of Europe

Croatia is hitting the road to let European Union member states know that Kosovo has met all of the requirements to participate in the visa liberalization scheme and should be allowed to do so immediately. Subjected to a litany of bureaucratic and logistical restrictions to bring Kosovo’s systems into harmony with the rest of the EU, Croatia’s ambassador to Pristina Danjela Barisic argued that Kosovo not only needs to be admitted to the scheme but every delay is costing the area real money in terms of economic opportunities.

“We need arguments that Kosovo has done everything that had to be done. This country has to keep on fighting crime and corruption. Kosovo has to give us arguments to convince the reluctant member states and show them that it has done everything they could,” she argued.

Germany’s Christian Beyer said of the process in September of last year, “I always mentioned the visa liberalization of Kosovo in different meetings, because it is very unfair that only Kosovars do not have the possibility of free movement.”

What is particularly frustrating for those involved in the visa liberalization program for Kosovo is that the European Parliament approves of the measure yet it seems like Kosovo national-level politicians and others such as the European Council need to come together to make it happen.

More pressingly for some human rights advocates is the fact that freedom of movement is guaranteed by the European Union yet is currently being denied to Kosovars for what seems like “no good reason.”

A lot of the roadblocks to the admission of Kosovo have to do with its unique status as well. There are some European Union member states that do not yet recognize the country as an independent nation. Among them include Cyprus, Greece, Romania, Slovakia, and Spain. Other countries voice concerns that extending visa liberalization to this area of the European Union could lead to a wave of migrants and refugees across the country – a scenario that no one wants to see happen.

The political fallout from refugee movements and migration has caused turmoil in many states in the European Union which has led to some level of discomfort with broadening the freedom of movement scheme. Indeed, balancing the needs of state-level actors with broader EU aims promises to be the great challenge the organization faces over the next decade with one side arguing for a pragmatic approach and others advocating for the values enshrined in the EU’s laws and charter.

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