The EU countries have given the final go-ahead to the liberalization of visas with Kosovo. The new rule, which must be ratified by the European Parliament, will allow citizens of the country to move freely through the Schengen area without prior requirements from January 2024 at the latest.

After an agreement between the European institutions last December, and after eleven years of negotiations, the European countries ratified the decision on Wednesday. Citizens with a Kosovar passport may enter the Schengen area for a period of 90 consecutive days. This new norm will begin to be applied no later than January 1, 2024, after the entire ratification process is ready.

For European countries, Kosovo “has made significant progress” in obtaining visa liberalization. Thus, all the countries of the Western Balkans will be able to have the same exemption.

“Kosovo has made great efforts to improve its security and migration control in order to align its visa policy with that of the EU. We hope that our cooperation in this matter will continue to be fruitful,” Swedish Migration Minister Maria Malmer Stenegard, whose country holds the rotating presidency of the EU Council, said in a statement.

Last December Kosovo formally requested its formal admission to enter the European Union, fifteen years after it unilaterally gained independence from Serbia, a country with which it has not yet formalized relations.

Despite the fact that the enlargement process in the European Union has been practically frozen in recent years —the last country to join was Croatia almost a decade ago— the war in Ukraine has accelerated. The unquestionable Russian influence in the Balkan region awakened in the bloc the need to give hope to countries that are patiently waiting for the European dream. But the process can be very long. Kosovo is not recognized in all countries. Five of the Twenty-seven, -besides Spain, neither Greece, Romania, Slovakia nor Cyprus- accept it.

At the same time, the European Union maintains its role as mediator between Serbia and Kosovo to implement the new agreement promoted by the head of European diplomacy, Josep Borrell, and which was approved last week. Both countries supported an 11-point plan, which has yet to be implemented, but which would facilitate the normalization of relations between Pristina and Belgrade. On other issues, the agreement provides that Serbia does not prevent Kosovo’s entry into international organizations, which are mutually recognized, as well as the elimination of bureaucratic obstacles.

Precisely, on March 18, Borrell will meet in Ohrid (North Macedonia) with the President of Serbia, Aleksandar Vučić and the Prime Minister of Kosovo, Albin Kurti, with the aim of advancing and approving the implementation of the agreement.