Visa allocation: Serbia announces tougher rules – Politics

The government in Belgrade has recently aroused the displeasure of many EU countries with its entry policy. German Interior Minister Nancy Faeser (SPD), for example, recently railed: “Serbia should change its visa practices, now and not at some point.” The background is a significant increase in illegal entry into the EU through the Balkans. As migrants from Syria, Afghanistan and Turkey increasingly come from countries such as India, Tunisia and Burundi, Serbia has come into focus – with its visa practices, which, as Faeser puts it, are “very unpleasant”.

Despite the aesthetic value, the practice looks like this: Citizens of many countries can enter Serbia without a visa, for example by plane. For some travelers, this is then clearly linked to the temptation to pass through official border checkpoints into the EU. The practice could hinder Serbia’s chances of joining the EU, Faeser threatened. EU Home Affairs Commissioner Ylva Johansson promised that, in the worst case, Serbia should be “punished” – for example by stopping visa-free travel for Serbian citizens to EU countries.

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When asked by SZ, Serbia’s ambassador in Berlin, Snežana Jankovi, was “worried” about what was being said about her country: “Sometimes there is the impression that Serbian visa practices are the main problem with irregular migration to the EU.” On the other hand, he refers to official figures from Belgrade, according to which the majority of migrants who have entered the Serbian Republic since the beginning of the year have crossed the land border from neighboring countries such as North Macedonia, Bulgaria and Albania. That’s only 6.67 percent through Belgrade Airport. Overall, the increase in people from Afghanistan, Syria and Pakistan was the highest recently.

However, according to Jankovi, “the concerns of our German and European partners have been understood” and they want to “help solve the problem”. For example, Serbia has tightened entry requirements for people from India, Burundi, Cuba and Tunisia: you must now present a paid return ticket with a fixed departure date. At the end of the year, President Aleksandar Vučić had announced that Serbia’s visa policy would be “essentially aligned” with EU policy. Details will be worked out by the working group.

Recently, accusations have been made repeatedly that Belgrade’s visa policy benefits citizens of a country that – like Serbia – refuses to recognize the independence of neighboring Kosovo. Ambassador Jankovi pointedly rejected this, as well as accusations coming from the FDP that Serbia, in agreement with Moscow, wanted to smuggle migrants into the EU in a targeted way: Relevant agreements have been made with most countries whose citizens can enter Serbia without visas. years, so it is a “legacy of the former Yugoslavia”. At the time, the country was a founding member of the “Movement of Non-Aligned States”, which did not want to join either of the two power blocs during the Cold War.

Ambrose Fernandez

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