- Since midnight, Kosovar citizens have been allowed to enter the Schengen area without a visa.
- According to Reuters news agency, hundreds used this option at Pristina Airport.
- Kosovo Prime Minister Albin Kurti welcomed the passengers at the airport and said: This day is important. The great injustice has now been eliminated.
“I now feel free as a bird because I can travel anywhere in Europe,” said Habib Spahiu, who wants to make a two-day visit to Vienna with his son. He was among a group of 50 people who won a state lottery paid for by the government.
The Schengen Area allows more than 400 million people to travel freely between member states without border controls. Strict requirements imposed by EU member states and internal disputes delayed Kosovo's integration process for many years.
In 2018, the European Union announced that all requirements had been met. But France and the Netherlands delayed making the decision for fear of a new wave of immigration.
Independent since 2008
Kosovo declared its independence from Serbia in 2008. But the young country is still struggling to become a member of the United Nations. But the objections of Serbia, Russia and China prevent this. The country is legally recognized by more than 110 countries, but its 1.8 million citizens can only travel to fewer than 20 countries without a visa. Kosovo remains one of the poorest countries in Europe, and many see the visa exemption as an opportunity to gain work abroad.
Kosovo is the last of the six Western Balkan countries for which travel relief has come into effect. The new regulation also applies to Switzerland The Federal Council decided in the spring. However, Kosovo residents who want to work in Switzerland still need a work visa.
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