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Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

06.11.10: Albania and Bosnia to get visa-free travel before Christmas - 0 views

  • EU interior ministers are on Monday (8 November) expected to lift visa requirements for Albanian and Bosnian citizens despite limited progress in terms of democracy, the fight against organised crime and corruption in the two countries.
  • To Bosnians and Albanians, the news is sweet after they were left behind last year when Serbia, Macedonia and Montenegro got on the visa-free list. Kosovo, on the other hand, has little prospect of catching up as it is not even recognised by all EU member states. On the EU side, some capitals are unhappy about the developments. The Netherlands is opposing the move, saying there has been too little progress in terms of democratisation, organised crime and corruption in Albania and Bosnia and pointing to the political chaos in both countries. France is also reluctant, fearing a massive influx of migrants. The EU commission has given reassurances that Tirana and Sarajevo will make it clear that visa-free travel is not a ticket to asylum or residence in the EU after problems with Macedonian asylum seekers last year. But even if France or the Netherlands votes No or abstain on Monday, the decision will be adopted by qualified majority. The commission itself shares Dutch concerns. In the 2010 accession progress reports on the two countries, to be published on Tuesday and seen by EUobserver, neither Albania nor Bosnia win much praise. "Bosnia and Herzegovina has made limited progress in addressing key reforms. Incompatibilities between the Bosnian constitution and the EU convention on human rights were not removed, despite the ruling of the European Court of Human Rights," the document says. It also criticises Bosnia for lacking "a shared vision by the leaders on the overall direction of the country and on key EU-related reforms." On Albania, it says the political stalemate after 2009 elections is the biggest obstacle to progress. It adds that Albania has made too little headway to be granted the status of EU candidate country, for which it applied in 2009. "Activities of organised crime groups in Albania, having impact outside of the country, remain an issue of serious concern. Further strenghtening of co-operation at the international level is necessary, including in particular with neighbouring countries," it says.
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

22.12.09: Serbia's bumpy road towards EU membership - 0 views

  • President Boris Tadic formally applied for European Union membership for Serbia on Tuesday, almost two decades after ex-Yugoslavia collapsed in ethnic bloodshed that kept most of its republics out of mainstream Europe. The EU unfroze an interim trade agreement with Belgrade earlier this month and allowed citizens of Serbia, Macedonia and Montenegro to travel freely to the bloc. The EU had previously blocked Serbia's progress, demanding full cooperation with the UN war crimes tribunal in The Hague and the arrest of former Bosnian Serb military commander Ratko Mladic, indicted for genocide over the 1995 massacre of Bosnian Muslims in Srebrenica and the 43-month siege of Sarajevo. Here is a timeline on Serbia's path towards EU membership.
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

08.12.09: EU lifts hurdle on Serbia's path to accession - 0 views

  • EU foreign affairs ministers on Monday (7 December) removed restrictions against a trade agreement with Serbia after the Netherlands put aside objections related to Belgrade's performance on war crimes probes. The agreement was signed in April 2008 and was never ratified due to the Dutch position, even though its terms were implemented internally by Serbia in a situation playing to the EU's financial advantage.
  • But a positive report from UN chief prosecutor Serge Brammertz on the way in which Belgrade is co-operating with the war crimes tribunal in the Hague helped persuade the Netherlands to back down. The move is good news for Belgrade on its EU accession track and comes just one week after the bloc's interior ministers decided to lift visa requirements for Serb citizens from 19 December. Serbia and the EU in 2008 signed a so-called Stabilisation and Association Agreement (SAA) - seen as a first step toward membership - of which the trade pact was a part. But the SAA is unlikely to be fully ratified until Mladic and Hadzic are behind bars.
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

01.12.09: Three Balkan countries to get visa-free travel by Christmas - 0 views

  • Serbs, Macedonians and Montenegrins will be able to travel visa-free to Europe from 19 December, EU interior ministers decided on Monday. EU enlargement commissioner Olli Rehn said the move was a "big step in terms of EU integration and Europeanisation of the civil societies in these countries" and added that the other Balkan countries could join the visa-free regime once they met the conditions.
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

25.07.09: EU's visa-freedom dividing Balkans - 0 views

  • The “European perspective” is key concept for integrating western Balkans into EU. The main carrot for ordinary people during this millennium has been visa-free travel after some 17 years of isolation. On 15th July 2009, the European Commission submitted its proposal on visa-free travel for citizens of Western Balkans countries. After a non-binding opinion of the European parliament on the EC proposal the Council comprising EU interior ministers will take the official vote and at best case free travel to Schengen area could be possible January 2010. But not for all! European perspective will be true only for some when visa ban still will be existing for some countries or even to some ethnic groups inside a country. Instead of connecting people of western Balkans with western Europe the EC proposal will divide again people according their nationality or location. From EU’s side the reason for division is seen technical related to common standards; from western Balkan’s perspective the reasons for division can be seen political or even related to religion.
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

15.06.09: Visa-free travel for the Western Balkans - a win-win situation - 0 views

  • Over the past year, five countries in the region have carried out fundamental reforms that will help to protect them and the EU against organised crime and irregular migration. They have introduced biometric passports, modernised their border crossing points, built reception centres for asylum seekers, established closer cooperation with Europol, Eurojust, Frontex and Interpol, and strengthened the fight against corruption and organised crime.
  • Most of these countries have worked with remarkable speed and determination. They have had a reason to meet close to 50 conditions set out in "visa roadmaps" issued by the European Commission last year. The ultimate reward, attractive to both citizens and leaders of these countries, is visa-free travel to the Schengen area. The commission assessments last month noted that Macedonia has met the roadmap criteria; Montenegro and Serbia have met the majority of the conditions; and Albania and Bosnia and Herzegovina, meanwhile, will need to do more. Now the ball is in the EU's court. People across the region ask: will the EU really reward the progress made and lift the visa requirements?
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

26.05.08: EU starts visa talks with Bosnia - 0 views

  • The Commission today (26 May) officially launched talks with Bosnia over a visa-free regime, while 16 June was identified as the official day for the eventual signature of the Stabilisation and Association Agreement (SAA), seen as a key step towards EU membership.
  • Bosnia was the last Balkan country to launch visa talks which will allow Bosnian citizens to travel unhampered within EU countries.  The Commission will outline a roadmap towards full visa liberalisation in the coming weeks, said Commission Vice President Jacques Barrot, who remains in charge of transport until the new Italian Commissioner Antonio Tajani takes over next month when approved by Parliament, after his meeting with the Bosnian Prime Minister Nikola Spiric.
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