Kosovo Citizens Start Visa-Free Travel to Schengen Area

Kosovo Citizens Start Visa-Free Travel to Schengen Area

As of January 1st, citizens of Kosovo are celebrating a long-awaited milestone – the freedom to travel visa-free within the Schengen Area of the European Union. 

This significant move allows Kosovars to explore the 27 countries in the Schengen Zone for up to 90 days within any 180 days without the need for a visa.

This achievement marks the culmination of persistent efforts and aspirations for Kosovo, the last of the Western Balkan countries to attain this waiver. This step is seen as vital not only for facilitating tourism and personal travel but also as a crucial stride towards Kosovo's ambition to join the European Union (EU).

At a ceremony held at the Pristina airport, Prime Minister Albin Kurti hailed this development as a momentous occasion, urging citizens to use this privilege responsibly. “This is how we respect and elevate our country,” he emphasised, acknowledging the significance of this newfound right after enduring prolonged limitations.

President Vjosa Osmani echoed this sentiment on social media, congratulating the 1.8 million citizens of Kosovo for their perseverance and commitment to claiming their place in the European family. She labelled 2024 as a year commencing with the freedom of movement, underlining the historical significance of this shift.

This achievement, however, was not without its difficulties. Although the European Commission approved Kosovo's eligibility for visa waivers in 2018, its implementation encountered obstacles by some EU members concerned about potential migration ramifications. Despite opposition from certain EU member states and delays in approval, Kosovo has finally attained this crucial right.

For Kosovo, previously limited to visa-free travel in 14 countries worldwide, this move signifies an expansion of opportunities for its citizens, particularly for business, tourism, and personal connections. However, officials have cautioned against misuse or overstaying the permitted duration, emphasising the importance of compliance with the regulations governing this privilege.

While celebrating this newfound freedom, Kosovo's leaders are also focused on addressing other diplomatic challenges. They aim to overcome impediments hindering the country's progress towards EU membership, advocating for the removal of punitive measures and seeking support for Kosovo's aspirations to join key international organisations.

This milestone represents not just a logistical convenience but a symbolic leap forward for Kosovo, reflecting the aspirations and resilience of its citizens in their journey towards greater integration and recognition within the European community.

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