Spindelegger welcomes EU’s visa freedom for three Western Balkan states
"Soon" to include other Western Balkan states
Vienna, 30 November 2009 – "This is a great day for the people in Macedonia, Montenegro, and Serbia. With this step, our long-nurtured plan of a visa liberalization for all Western Balkan states is coming within reach", said Foreign Minister Michael Spindelegger today, expressing his satisfaction about the decision of the EU Interior Ministers to abolish the visa obligation for the three Western Balkan states of Macedonia, Montenegro, and Serbia. "Austria has always supported the efforts of the Balkan states. This step is a sign of encouragement for the other states of the region to continue their efforts toward fulfilling all provisions and requirements with greater vigour", added the Foreign Minister.
"Freedom of movement is an important part of our strategy to present the European perspective as concrete as possible for each Balkan state. The benefits of this perspective must be tangible for the people in this region. I hope that young people in particular will take advantage of this to personally experience Europe", said the Foreign Minister. The decisions lead to a "further Europeanization of the Western Balkan countries". This shows that this is also about the integration of peoples and individuals. Spindelegger reminded that the citizens of former Yugoslavia enjoyed visa freedom until the 90s.
In addition, Spindelegger spoke in favour of a quick expansion to other countries of the Balkans as soon as these meet the necessary requirements: "Visa liberalisation, however, must go hand in hand with a stronger security partnership with the countries concerned. There is no getting round the full implementation of the strict European security standards. This will require further consistent reform efforts by our partners. Austria will actively support them."
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