Czech Republic wants to push for visa liberalization in Kosovo during its Council Presidency – EURACTIV.com

During its Presidency of the Council of the European Union, the Czech Republic wishes to advance the agenda of the Western Balkans, in particular the liberalization of visas for Kosovo.

In an interview with EURACTIV Czech Republic, the Czech Republic’s Ambassador to Sarajevo, Ivana Hlavsová, outlined several objectives of her country’s presidency regarding the Western Balkans. One of them is visa liberalization for Kosovo.

“This country was subject to conditions and fulfilled them several years ago, as confirmed by the European Commission at the time. However, the visa requirement has not yet been lifted. This is a clear question for us, and we will try to move this file forward as much as possible.”said Ms. Hlavsová.

Other Czech projects are already taking shape, France having found a way to unblock the dispute between Bulgaria and North Macedonia, thus paving the way for the opening of enlargement negotiations for the latter and Albania.

Ms Hlavsová claimed that bilateral disputes are something the Czech Republic wants to eliminate from the EU enlargement process.

“There are so many bilateral disputes in the Western Balkans that this could effectively halt the enlargement process altogether. That is why we continue to say: settle your bilateral problems between yourselves”said the diplomat.

With regard to Bosnia and Herzegovina, Ms Hlavsová said the ball was now in Sarajevo’s court.

“Bosnia applied for membership in 2016, and in 2019 the European Commission conducted a readiness assessment, giving the country 14 key missions to begin accession negotiations. We expect that at least some of these must be met to achieve candidate status”explained Ms. Hlavsová.

According to the ambassador, some minor changes have been made, but no substantial progress has been made due to the complexity of the internal political situation.

“We, the Czech Presidency, would very much like to move forward on this issue, but the problem is much more on the side of Bosnia and Herzegovina. It is not like in the case of North Macedonia and Albania, where these countries did everything, and it was our turn”she recalled.

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