Albania EU

Next year will be a decisive one for the liberalization of the EU’s visa regime for Albanian citizens, national media reported today, citing Foreign Minister Lulzim Basha.

During Basha’s meeting yesterday with the Vice-President of the European Commission Jacques Barrot, Albania’s Foreign Minister concentrated on his country’s process of issuing new identity documents for Albanian citizens, including identification cards and passports with biometric data, the Panorama newspaper reported.

According to the publication, Basha underscored that supplying citizens with these high-security documents is one of the government’s priorities, aiming to fulfil the EU’s criteria for the visa regime liberalisation.

The Albanian government’s goal is for Albania to join in the next year the countries that enjoy visa-free travel to the EU, according to Panorama.

As reported, recently, the Greek ambassador to Albania, Nikolaos Pazios, promised that Albanian citizens will be able to travel without visas to Greece in the near future.

The EU visa regime liberalisation is part of the Union’s general initiative to ease restrictions for the Western Balkan countries. It started a dialogue with Serbia in January of this year and continued with Macedonia and Montenegro in February, as reported in May.

Before the EU liberalises its visa regime towards Albania, the country will have to fulfil a list of requirements, including the introduction of identification documents containing biometric data and fighting illegal migration and organised crime.

Albanian citizens have enjoyed some benefits since the beginning of the year. Some categories of visitors to the EU, such as students, athletes, cultural workers and journalists enjoy easier visa access. In addition, the visa fee was lowered from 60 to 35 euros and visas that are valid for up to five years and allow multiple entries are now issued.