The EU Parliament Rapporteur on Kosovo Igor Soltes claims visa restrictions will not be lifted for nationals of Kosovo any time soon, despite the promises of the Kosovar politicians, including Kosovo PM Ramush Haradinaj, that visa liberalization will happen this year. Soltes, during an interview with Gazeta Express, said that the sooner the demarcation is ratified the better it is for the visa liberalization process to get started again.
According to Soltes, in 2016 Kosovo was on board of the train of Visa Liberalization with Georgia and Ukraine. However, Kosovo is now off that train and it is still unknown when Kosovo will be able to catch the train again.
“My predecessor Ulrike Lunacek… insisted on ratifying the border demarcation agreement with Montenegro as soon as possible. Her advice was not listened to. Kosovo is now off the visa train. This has been a missed opportunity, with Kosovo’s citizens paying the price.” Soltes said.
Kosovo and Montenegro reached agreement on the demarcation of their border in 2015 but many of the MPs saw this agreement as harmful to Kosovo, including the now PM Haradinaj, claiming that the agreement would lead to a loss of 8200 hectares of Kosovo’s land. The agreement arose protests in Kosovo, including the release of tear gas by then opposition MPs in the country’s parliament.
However the European Commission insists Kosovo must approve the border demarcation deal before its citizens enjoy visa-free travel within the Schengen area. Soles himself claims, that Kosovo should either provide a credible and practicable alternative agreed with the Montenegrin authorities or vote immediately the existing agreement, in order to ‘catch the visa train once again’.
Soles also refuted the claims of Kosovo PM Ramush Haradinaj and other politicians’ claims that visa liberalization would happen in March 2018.
As per the efforts of Kosovo MPs to abolish the Specialist Chambers, the European parliament’s rapporteur on Kosovo said that this initiative deeply undermines Kosovo’s international credibility and jeopardizes the European perspective of the country.
“The Specialist Chamber was approved by the Kosovo parliament and now that the Chamber is about to issue its first indictments the assembly wants to abrogate this law. I appeal to Kosovo politicians to show more responsibility,” he said.
In 2015 Kosovo MPS had voted pro to set up a special war crimes court of its own, based in the Netherlands but operating under Kosovo’s jurisdiction. Last December a group of MPs tried to take the law down, supported by the PM and the President of the country.