Recognitions are not stopping
The visa regime will not obstruct recognitions
Ibrahim Gashi talks to Epoka e re
Recognitions are not stopping
The visa regime will not obstruct recognitions
- Visas will start to be issued from 1 January 2013. They will be issued by the MFA
The visa regime will not obstruct or affect the lobbying process for recognition of the state of Kosovo. In its European agenda, Kosovo must prove itself a serious partner. Since the visa regime is addressed in the Progress Report, and also in the questionnaire on the Feasibility Study, we have prioritized the European agenda and our state obligations, said Gashi
Prishtina, 22 May The Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, (MFA), Ibrahim Gashi, said that the visa regime will not affect the process of recognizing Kosovo by states which are subjected to this regime. The visa regime will not obstruct nor affect the lobbying process and recognition of the state of Kosovo, said Gashi in this interview for Epoka e re.
The Deputy Minister said that Kosovo will be ready to implement the visa regime from January 1, 2013. He said that the Visa Center will be in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA), and the Norwegian Government has pledged a donation of one and a half million Euros to establish it. In those countries where the Republic of Kosovo has no embassies or consulates, we will authorize friendly states like Albania, Macedonia, Croatia, Slovenia and other states, to offer consular services issuing Kosovo visas for people seeking visas, said Gashi.
He said it will be difficult to implement the visa regime because there are not enough staff in consular missions. In addition, Deputy Minister Gashi said that by establishing a visa regime, Kosovo is fulfilling an obligation toward European integration, especially visa liberalization.
Epoka e re: Mr. Gashi, from January 1 next year, Kosovo will establish a visa regime for 86 states. How will this decision be implemented?
Gashi: In the beginning, I would like to talk about the necessity of a visa regime for Kosovo, for some states. The Kosovo Progress Report last year noted this fact as one of the preconditions Kosovo must fulfill in order to be included in visa liberalization. This requirement was addressed also in the questionnaire for the feasibility study. Therefore, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and in particular, the Working Group, has worked for about one year to draft an analysis relating to establishing a visa regime for 86 states. The selection of states to which a visa regime will be applied was assessed according to criteria regarding the level of security threat they present to the state of Kosovo, to peace and international stability, and for countries on the Schengen black list. The first group of states includes countries which in some way threaten the national security of the Republic of Kosovo and international security, whereas the second group of states are states whose citizens constitute the largest number of asylum seekers and so the idea was not make sure Kosovo is not used either as a final destination or for transit to third countries; and, in the third group are states which on the Schengen black list.
By establishing a visa regime, Kosovo is fulfilling an obligation toward European integration, especially visa liberalization. Besides this, the visa regime has another symbolism, which is that by this decision, Kosovo demonstrates its statehood, sovereignty, territorial integrity and its borders. Thus, to this end, Kosovo is presented as a factor in the community of states, in the sense of respecting the principle of reciprocity.
Epoka e re: Is Kosovo ready to establish a visa regime?
Gashi: We have asked that this decision enter into force on January 1, 2013 in order that during this six monthly period the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) has sufficient time to make final preparations and to draft and regulate legislation for implementing this decision. To this end, it is essential to create a Visa Center. We were not sure whether the Visa Center should be in the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA), like other states or in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA), however as we initiated this project, we decided that the Visa Center be in the MFA.
Epoka e re: How much will it cost to establish this center?
Gashi: We are working on this and we believe that we are on the way toward winning a donation from Norway. The Norwegian Government has promised this and I strongly believe this pledge will be met. The donation will be of a value of 1 and a half million Euros, which will cover all expenses for the creation of a Visa Center in Kosovo. Like this, I hope that from January 1, we will be prepared with the legislation and logistics to issue visas.
Epoka e re: Will it be difficult to implement the visa regime?
Gashi: Certainly, it will be difficult because currently in our consular missions we dont have enough staff. Also, this decision has financial implications because we have to employ more staff. It is necessary that at least one official goes to each consulate where they work issuing visas. However, we will use models used by many other states, such as agreements of cooperation between states, which offer shared consular services in states in the region and in Europe.
Epoka e re: In states where Kosovo has no embassies or consulates, how will you work?
Gashi: In those countries where the Republic of Kosovo has no embassies or consulates we will authorize friendly states, such as Albania, Macedonia, Croatia, Slovenia and other states to offer consular services for issuing Kosovo visas to citizens seeking visas in these states.
Epoka e re: In the list of states which will be subject to a visa regime by Kosovo, there are no European states. Why?
Gashi: A one year study was done by a Working Group, which consulted the international community and domestic institutions, and it concluded that it is necessary for Kosovo to establish visas for these states which are now in the MFA list, but not European countries. Kosovo is a European state and is for the freedom of movement of products, ideas and people, and naturally it aspires to receive a roadmap for visa liberalization very soon. Therefore, it would not make sense to apply visas to European countries, even if it is not part of the European Union, but is included in the visa liberalization process. It does not make sense for European citizens, who move freely, to be required to have visas. Furthermore, we are not requiring visas from any state, which does not require visas from Kosovo. We have not foreseen visas for countries in the European Union, nor have we planned to require visas from the USA, but we will require visas from states which do not recognize our documentation and do not give visas to Kosovo citizens, as is the case with Russia and China. In addition, we will not apply visas for states of the region in which Kosovo citizens can enter without a visa, including here Serbia.
Epoka e re: The visa regime will apply also to states that have not recognized Kosovo. Does this represent a problem for recognition of Kosovo by these states?
Gashi: The visa regime will not obstruct nor will it affect the lobbying process for recognition of the state of Kosovo. In its European agenda, Kosovo must prove itself a serious partner. Since the visa regime is addressed in the Progress Report and in the questionnaire for the Feasibility Study, we have prioritized the European agenda and our state obligations. In addition, the visa regime will not affect relations with states which have already recognized the Republic of Kosovo.