While the European Commission and the European Parliament have given the green light to visa liberalization for Kosovo, the EU Council of Ministers has not yet done so, as some EU Member States believe that Kosovo has not done enough to fight corruption and organized crime.
The free movement of Kosovo citizens in the Schengen area, known as visa liberalization, has been a topic that has occupied domestic and foreign policy since 2010. But the signals so far sent, both by European Union countries and by the institutions themselves from Kosovo, speak of general skepticism for this to happen soon, experts say they follow developments concerning the European integration of Kosovo.
According to them, both within Kosovo and among the bodies of the European Union themselves, there are different opinions on whether or not Kosovo has met the criteria for obtaining visa liberalization.
While the European Commission and the European Parliament have given the green light to visa liberalization for Kosovo, the EU Council of Ministers has not yet done so, as some EU Member States believe that Kosovo has not done enough to fight corruption and high-level organized crime.
The expert opinion
Demush Shasha dell 'European Political Institute of Kosovo (EPIK), says some EU countries have enough arguments to block visa liberalization for Kosovo.
According to him, since 2016 Kosovo has been asked to take concrete measures in the fight against corruption and high-level organized crime, but even after four years, Kosovo has not taken any concrete steps.
Furthermore, according to him, a factor that hinders Kosovo's progress, although not directly related to the criteria for visa liberalization, is the freezing of dialogue with Serbia.
"If Kosovo progresses in these two areas, namely the normalization of relations with Serbia and the fight against high-level corruption, there is no doubt that an environment will be created in which the EU and in particular some skeptical states will find it much more difficult. block visa liberalization " says Shasha.
Artan Murati, professor of European Union law, speaking for Radio Free Europe, appreciates the conditions imposed on Kosovo by some European Union countries to combat organized crime and corruption at the highest levels, but the country has not responded.
In addition, it states that the recent reports of Transparency International show that Kosovo has taken steps back in the fight against corruption. And then, according to him, the specificities of some EU Member States do not play in favor of visa liberalization for Kosovo.
"They have problems in domestic politics, because the wave of migrants that has invaded these countries, in particular France, Germany and the Netherlands, has put some politicians in these countries in difficulty, as the support of these waves involves political costs"
Demush Shasha advises not to consider the issue of visa liberalization in Kosovo detached from what is happening within the countries of the European Union and its agenda on enlargement in favor of Western Balkans.
According to him, the case of the non-liberalization of visas for Kosovo and the failure to open negotiations with Albania and North Macedonia regarding EU membership, have similarities and reflect the same EU policy line towards of the western Balkan countries.
"In both cases, it is the Council of the EU that has stopped progress, both in the case of Albania and northern Macedonia, and on Kosovo. It is therefore true that skepticism currently exists on the enlargement agenda within the EU. We also saw a discussion on the future of Europe itself in 2020. In this regard, it is clear that this is part of the responsibility and political will within the EU Member States, but this is beyond our control . " stressed Shasha for Radio Free Europe.
On the other hand, Artan Murati estimates that a positive step towards visa liberalization for Kosovo is difficult in the current situation. According to him, Kosovo should make greater efforts in the fight against corruption and organized crime, using it as an element in favor of ending this process.
"Within the Union, Croatia and Germany will have the presidency this year. Both are, in a sense, friendly to Kosovo and will likely include Kosovo as part of the agenda in meetings of the EU Council of Ministers. Putting it on the agenda is not enough, because a qualified majority vote is required. This should be ensured through lobbying and a serious approach by Kosovo, which we do not have for now, because for many months we are without functioning institutions and in reality we are in institutional custody “, Stressed Murati.
The opinion of the representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy
On a visit to Kosovo on Thursday, High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell, during a meeting with President of Kosovo Hashim Thaçi, reiterated the position of the European Commission and the European Parliament, saying "it's time to move forward and end with the technical requirements ", but also added that it cannot guarantee anything since the decision is up to the EU member states.
The statements of President Thaçi
President Thaçi, however, highlighted all the disappointment of citizens for the lack of visa liberalization, criticizing the policy of double standards with respect to Kosovo, despite the satisfaction of all the requirements. According to him, this is an unjust and unbalanced attitude towards the Kosovo by the EU, to be ended as soon as possible.