Skip to content. | Skip to navigation

Personal tools
You are here: Home Breaking news Commissioner warns against abusing visa-free travel rights

Commissioner warns against abusing visa-free travel rights

— filed under: , , ,

(SARAJEVO) - A top European Union official Friday warned Bosnia and Albania against abusing a newly accorded visa-free travel regime that was recently extended to citizens of the two Balkan countries.

"If the (European) Commission sees that there is a systematic abuse of this, automatically, of course, the visa liberalisation, visa freedom can be withdrawn," Cecilia Malmstrom, European interior affairs commissioner, told reporters in Sarajevo.

"I hope we will not reach that stage, but we are here today with the Belgium presidency (of the EU) to bear in mind the limits in order not to give the wrong message and to inform people," she said.

Malmstrom repeated the warning during a later stop in Tirana, saying, "we encourage Albanians and Bosnians to think carefully and to respect the rules established for visa liberalisation in the Schengen area."

EU interior ministers on Monday unanimously gave the green light to let Bosnians and Albanians with biometric passports travel to 25 European nations without a visa for up to three months, starting in mid-December.

However, the EU has also established a tight monitoring system and vowed to suspend the privilege in the event of abuses.

Malmstrom and Belgian Immigration Minister Melchior Wathelet met Bosnian Prime Minister Nikola Spiric and ministers of security and justice to learn about a campaign which will explain to Bosnian citizens their rights and obligations while traveling around Europe.

"Do not undermine the signal that has been given by the member states, it's really a signal of confidence towards Bosnia," Wathelet said.

Malmstrom said the Commission, the EU executive, would make a report on the way the procedures have been respected "in six months."

"The monitoring will not be only for Bosnia, but also for Albania and the whole area," she said.

The warning came following an influx of unfounded requests for asylum from citizens of Serbia and Macedonia after the two countries, along with Montenegro, had been given a visa-free regime last December.

Document Actions