Swoboda: „Visa-free travel from Balkans a fundamental achievement for EU integration that must not be undone“

The governments of Belgium, France, Germany, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Sweden have sent a letter to the European Commission asking for the reintroduction of visa requirements for citizens from the Western Balkans, following an increase in asylum requests from several of the Western Balkan countries. The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia were given visa-free travel to the Schengen area in December 2009 and Albania and Bosnia-Herzegovina followed in December 2010.

Hannes Swoboda, President of the Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament, condemned the request for reintroducing visa requirements:
„Free travel is a fundamental part of EU integration and essential in the accession process for prospective member states. Everything must be done to prevent the reintroduction of visas for the citizens of the Western Balkans. The reintroduction of visas for travel to the Schengen space would be a significant step backwards for European integration.

„Instead of moving backwards, there must be serious talks with all the countries concerned and joint action packages to prevent abuse of the visa-free travel and asylum system.

„We must fight against all organisations in the Western Balkans that abuse the asylum system.“