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Four Balkan countries establish a borderless zone

(PRIZREN) - Leaders of Albania, Macedonia, Montenegro and Kosovo on Saturday said they had established a "free-movement" zone between their states as a sign of their readiness for further European integrations.

"The countries have implemented a mini Schengen regime" among them, said Kosovo President Fatmir Sejdiu, referring to the borderless zone created by 25 European Union member countries.

The move, which would enable citizens of the four Balkan coutries to travel through their territories without visas, has "demonstrated our maturity for wider integration processes," said Sejdiu, who hosted the summit.

"We are sennding the message to the (EU) Schengen zone that citizens of these four countries should (also) enjoy free movement towards (its) countries," said Montenegro's President Filip Vujanovic.

And Albanian President Bamir Topi said the move was a "call for our European partners that we see free movement as an essential right for every single citizen who lives and works in our Balkans region."

Macedonia's President George Ivanov said the region has made a huge progress comparing to "what it was only 10 years ago."

Visas for EU member states were introduced to the Balkan countries as the former Yugoslav communist federation dissolved in a series of bloody wars in the early 1990s.

But the EU lifted the restriction for all citizens of Serbia, Montenegro and Macedonia last December. Albania, Bosnia and Kosovo have yet to fulfil necessary requirements for the move.

The four presidents met for the third time in such a summit in the last two years. The previous meetings were held in Albania and Macedonia.

Serbia, which does not recognise the independence of Kosovo, proclaimed unilaterally by Pristina in 2008, was not invited to the summit as the only opponent among its neighbours.

However, 69 countries, among them the US and 22 out of 27 EU members, recognise the tiny and landlocked Balkan country.

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