Kosovo’s Prime Minister, Albin Kurti, has said that his country will formally apply to become the newest member of the European Union by the end of this year.
Kurti’s announcement comes despite raised concerns over tensions with Serbia, which also aspires to become a member of the European Union, SchengenVisaInfo.com reports.
In June this year, Kosovo’s PM announced that the country plans to submit its formal application before the end of this year, following a meeting held in Pristina with the German Chancellor, Olaf Scholz.
The Balkan country has been expecting to become a member of the European Union for many years now; however, the process has not been finished yet, despite the fact that the country has fulfilled all the needed requirements.
Back in May, authorities in Kosovo announced that the country officially submitted the application for membership in the Council of Europe.
The decision was then confirmed through a statement published by the Minister of Foreign Affairs in Kosovo, Donika Gërvalla.
“I have just left the meeting with the Deputy Secretary-General of the Council of Europe. On behalf of Kosovo, we submitted the application for membership,” Gërvalla emphasised in this regard.
In addition, Kosovo’s Foreign Affairs Minister added that such a decision marks a new chapter for her country in the Council of Europe.
“Today opens a new chapter for Kosovo in the CoE; today begins the procedure of reviewing our request, which will go through various instances of the Council of Europe, the Parliamentary Assembly, and finally, the Ministerial Council. Kosovo deserves to be a member of the Council of Europe,” Gërvalla said.
Even though Kosovo has been an independent country since 2008, Serbia does not recognize Kosovo as a country despite the fact that a large number of EU countries recognize Kosovo, except for some countries such as Russia or China.
The war in Ukraine, caused by Russia’s full-scale invasion, led authorities in Kosovo to tighten connections with the EU and NATO, and also enhance the country’s economic and military security.
However, the liberalisation process, which permits citizens of Kosovo to travel to EU countries without a visa, has not been finalised yet; thus, citizens of Kosovo can only travel to their neighbouring countries when planning to travel abroad; after travelling farther, they are obliged to apply for a visa.
In addition, the Henley Passport Index recently revealed that Kosovo’s passport has a visa-free and visa-on-arrival score of only 41, which means that Kosovo has the worst passport in Europe, while its holders are only eligible to travel without a visa to Albania, North Macedonia, Serbia and Turkey, among European countries.