Anna Marias tal i plenum om visa liberalisering för Serbien och FYRoM 13-12-2010
Mr President, I am so glad that in two days the people of Albania and Bosnia-Herzegovina can finally celebrate the granting of visa-free travel to the EU Schengen area – just before Christmas.
Their happiness is my happiness. I have been fully committed to supporting and accelerating the visa liberalisation process for all countries of the Western Balkans and, finally, almost all of them will be able to enjoy the opportunity to visit and study in our countries for three months.
Our oral question to the Commission has to be seen in a positive spirit. It is to make sure that this new freedom is not put at risk. The visa-free regime is not about asylum for political or economic reasons. It is not about permanent residence. It is not about a work permit.
I would like to welcome the steps that Commissioner Malmström has already taken – in particular with the authorities of Serbia and FYROM – showing the determination of the Commission to keep the process on track and to ensure correct application of the regime. Thank you for your response.
Now we have to continue working together to prevent and address any misinterpretation, misunderstanding or misuse.
The responsibility continues to lie with the authorities of the region.
We welcome the fact that Albania and FYROM have already successfully launched an information campaign, and we encourage all the countries in the region of the Western Balkans to do the same and to step up measures to prevent abuse.
We ask the Commission to continue monitoring, as it does already, and to report to us.
Developing people-to-people contact is essential for democracy and stability in the region. Let us not put that at stake in a European perspective. My commitment continues to be whole-hearted.