SARAJEVO, Bosnia (October 22,2008) - The Czech Republic supports as quick as possible integration of Bosnia with the European Union and the abolition of visas towards this country by the 27 EU member states, Czech Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg told Bosnian Foreign Minister Sven Alkalaj today.
However, it seems that it is difficult to convince the partners in the EU that the abolition of EU visas towards the southeastern European countries would benefit both sides, Schwarzenberg said.
At present, only citizens of Croatia can travel to EU countries without visas.
Schwarzenberg assured Alkalaj that Prague would help Bosnia with the preparation for EU membership.Schwarzenberg and Alkalaj discussed the Czech Republic's forthcoming EU presidency that will start in January, 2009.
They also signed a memorandum on cooperation.
Alkalaj told journalists he firmly believed that the Czech EU presidency would have great impact.
"We have one of the strongest voices in the EU that says that the integration of Western Balkan countries with the Euro-Atlantic structures should be speeded up and completed," he said.
He added that he would try to convince politicians from other EU countries of the necessity to lift visas towards these countries as soon as possible.
The Czech Republic is of the view that the EU should abolish visa requirements for citizens of individual southeastern European countries separately when these countries were prepared for this.
For instance, citizens of Bosnia, Macedonia and Albania need visas to travel to EU countries, including the Czech Republic. However, Czechs, for instance, do not need visas to go to these countries, which means that a one-sided visa regime is valid for the former.
Bosnia made progress in the integration with the EU this summer. A stabilisation and association agreements between Bosnia and the EU have been signed which is a pre-condition for the future EU membership and in which Bosnia pledged to implement certain reforms.