Friday, June 6, 2008


SARAJEVO, Bosnia (June 6,2008) - The European Union (EU) has determined conditions Bosnia must meet for an agreement on visa liberalisation with the EU.The main condition for Bosnia in this process is the security of documents (biometric passports).

European Commission Vice President Jacques Barrot, in charge of Justice, Freedom and Security, welcomed the transmission of the Roadmap on visa liberalisation to the Bosnian Foreign Affairs Minister of Bosnia, yesterday in a ceremony which took place in the Bosnian capital Sarajevo.

The Roadmap gives clear indications to the Bosnian authorities on the measures that need to be taken in order to grant visa free travel to all its citizens.

"I attach the greatest importance to facilitating people to people contacts in particular for the younger generation. I am convinced that easy travel conditions will increase mutual understanding and improve our relations in all fields. The roadmap on visa facilitation is certainly another important step towards the EU integration of Bosnia," Barrot said.

"Yet, the roadmap offers more advantages to the Bosnian citizens",Barrot continued, "as it will encourage the country to continue implementing the relevant reforms and reinforcing cooperation at regional level and with the EU in areas such as strengthening the rule of law, fighting organised crime and corruption."

Since 1 January 2008, the Bosnian citizens enjoy the benefits of a visa facilitation agreement with the European Union. This agreement provides simplified procedures for issuing visas, including a visa fee waiver for a broad range of categories of citizens including students, sportsmen and sportswomen, cultural workers, journalists, people visiting family members living in the EU, people in need of medical treatment, businesspeople, etc. Up to 50% of the Bosnian citizens can currently be exempt from the visa fee. People who pay for visas are charged the special reduced rate of 35 Euros instead of 60 Euros.

The EU sent another strong message of openness/encouragement to all Bosnian citizens when on 28 January 2008 the General Affairs and External Relations Council invited the Commission to present detailed roadmaps setting clear benchmarks to be met by all the countries in the region in order to gradually advance towards visa liberalisation. On 26 May 2008, the dialogue on visa liberalisation between the EU and Bosnia was launched. The Roadmap presented officially yesterday is a concrete step towards visa liberalisation.

The Roadmap follows a balanced approach setting benchmarks which are realistic and achievable in the near future. It sets clear requirements for the reforms to be implemented in key areas such as security of documents, border management, fight against illegal migration, fight against organised crime and corruption and also in the area of fundamental rights.

The process will be closely monitored by the Commission assisted by the EU Member States' experts. The Commission will report regularly on the implementation of the Roadmap and will eventually consider the possibility to present a proposal for the lifting of the visa obligation for the Bosnian citizens.

After the Stabilisation and Association Agreement (SAA) is signed between Bosnia and the EU, and the Agreement comes into force on July 1, the Bosnian state administration will make an official request to EU member countries to exempt Bosnian citizens from visa fees, until the full visa liberalisation.

This is what the Bosnian Foreign Affairs Minister Sven Alkalaj announced yesterday, after receiving the visa liberalisation process road map, and said that he hopes good news would come by the summer.

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