“After the finalisation of the EU-Kosovo Stabilisation and Association Agreement (SAA) last year and only few steps to go on the way to visa liberalisation there are good reasons to celebrate this year’s Independence Day. I am encouraging all political parties in Kosovo to continue their work in a constructive manner and European spirit“, Lunacek wrote.
She said that it is high time for Kosovo citizens to be able to enjoy the freedom to visit friends and family in the EU for three months. “As everyone knows, Kosovo is the only country in the Western Balkans whose citizens are not allowed to travel freely in the EU for three months”, she continues and pointed out that this anomalous situation has to change quickly in order to make citizens not feel „locked-in“ anymore.
“Visa liberalisation is not a right in itself, it is merit based“, Lunacek wrote on Facebook.
She added that the government and the Assembly in Pristina have fulfilled almost all of the requested benchmarks. “The green light from the Commission for visa liberalisation as soon as the two remaining benchmarks are fulfilled was very good news last year. Now the ball is in the hands of the Kosovo parliament and government”, MEP wrote.
“The current stalemate has to be ended”, Lunacek is clear: The two remaining benchmarks can and must be fulfilled by Kosovo soon: ratification of the border demarcation agreement with Montenegro is a must. And of course, the Kosovo government has to deliver on the second benchmark: further progress on the track record of high level convictions for corruption and organized crime must be visible.
“Corruption is still widespread – as is the case in other countries in the region. Therefore the fight against corruption is already a conditio sine qua non. All my Kosovo reports call on the government in Pristina to take concrete steps to more effectively fight corruption and organized crime at all levels, including in its own ranks”, Lunacek concludes.