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Bosnians a step closer to visa-free EU travel

brussels bureau

Bosnians a step closer to visa-free EU travel


Queueing for Bosnians seeking travel permission at an EU embassy could soon end. A European proposal would allow them visa-free travel across the borders of almost all the EU countries if they have biometric passports. The same would go for Albanians.

The bloc’s internal affairs commissioner, Cecilia Malmström, hopes a decision could be taken by the EU countries and Parliament this autumn, if the non-EU states keep their half of the bargain acting against corruption and organised crime. Shemade clear, however, that the visa step was not an asylum invitation.

Malmström said: “There were some misunderstandings that caused people to come and ask for asylum in certain member countries. We have worked with Bosnia and with Albania, and they have already themselves elaborated a communication strategy to inform the citizens of what it means, the possibilities, but also the limits to that, and we will continue to monitor and work with them.”

In March, after visa requirements had been lifted for Serbs and Macedonians, hundreds of ethnic Albanian and Roma asylum seekers came knocking at EU doors. Misinformation in their home villages was blamed, and they were sent back to their countries of origin.

Albanian television correspondent Ernest Bunguri suggested that fears of a repeat occurrence might be exaggerated.

Bunguri said: “Even if some people will try now to abuse, at least they have the information that they can not abuse, so I do not think it will be as dramatic as it was with Macedonia and Serbia.”

As of last December, Serbian citizens with biometric passportshave been allowed to travel to and within the EU Schengen states without visas. EU officials said it sent a signal of encouragement to countries working effectively to meet European mainstream standards.

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