The Western Balkans adopted Visa Harmonization with the EU because of Migrants

World » SOUTHEAST EUROPE | October 21, 2022, Friday // 13:16
Bulgaria: The Western Balkans adopted Visa Harmonization with the EU because of Migrants

Serbia and other countries of the Western Balkans have accepted the need to harmonize their visa policies with those of the European Union because of migration along the Balkan route.

The news was announced at a meeting of European and Balkan representatives in Berlin that began last night. Harmonization was cited as one of the most important steps to stem the flow of migrants and was listed in a German interior ministry announcement alongside measures to counter money laundering and organized crime.

In the text, Interior Minister Nancy Faeser says that the EU and the Western Balkans will work together on these issues and in the fight against corruption.

In her words, "Europe collectively has a responsibility to stop illegal entry" so that help can be given to those who need it. "No person should embark on a flight on dangerous roads and put their life in danger, and then have no prospect of staying in Europe."

Germany and other European countries have expressed concern in recent weeks about the increased number of migrants on the Balkan route. Part of those who entered are citizens of countries with which Serbia had a visa-free regime - Morocco, Tunisia, Burundi, India, Cuba. According to "Euronews Serbia", this regime has already been canceled for citizens of Tunisia and Burundi, from where they were part of those who took the Balkan route in recent months.

Belgrade has been warned that it may have to forget about free travel for Serbs in the European Union as visa-free people from outside the bloc come through the country to try to enter it.

Yesterday, European Commissioner for Enlargement Oliver Varhelyi congratulated Serbia on the "important step" of aligning its visa policy with that of the EU. "We welcome that Serbia has taken an important step today to align with the EU's list of visa-required third countries. Hope to see more improvements soon," he tweeted.

Preparation for the summit

The following agreements from the meeting are indicated as four points in the message - for measures in the areas:

  • harmonization of the visa policy of the Western Balkans with EU standards;
  • targeted fight against human trafficking;
  • effective protection of the borders of the Western Balkans with the support of Frontex;
  • reliable return mechanisms for people with no right to remain.

The meeting brought together interior ministers or other relevant representatives of Austria, Bulgaria, Great Britain, Greece, Italy, Poland, Slovenia, France, Croatia and the Czech Republic together with representatives of the authorities in the six Western Balkan countries. The Commissioner for Internal Affairs Ylva Johansson was also there.

It was part of the preparatory events for the Berlin Process, a 2014 initiative by former German Chancellor Angela Merkel for rapprochement by solving bilateral and internal problems in the region and gathering support for common projects. Today follows a similar format with foreign ministers, on Monday - with energy ministers, and on November 3 is the summit.

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Tags: Balkans, European, migrants, harmonize
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