Serbia, North Macedonia, Albania agree on free movement of people and goods

Political leaders of Serbia, North Macedonia and Albania have agreed on details of an initiative called mini-Schengen that foresees measures to enable free movement of people, goods, services and capital within the three countries. The details were announced after a meeting in the North Macedonian town of Ohrid between PM Zoran Zaev, Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic and Albanian PM Edi Rama. Kosovo President Hashim Thaci did not attend the meeting, citing Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina’s non-recognition of Kosovo as independent country.

These measures include: free movement with ID cards only; possibility for foreigners to travel to the member states of the initiative without additional visas once they enter one of them; joint work permits and recognition of qualifications without additional procedures; exchange of students; joint R&D projects; 24-hour shifts for all border inspection services with a focus on phytosanitary and veterinary inspection; joint set of documentation needed for the transit of goods; amendments to the laws referring to the capital market, tax and financial system in all three countries in order to create conditions for a smooth flow of capital; further strengthening of cross-border co-operation to combat transnational crime and terrorism (read more).

These are part of the measures whose implementation should be defined in an action plan that will be drafted by the next meeting of the initiative in Durres, Albania at the end of December.

The initiative is open to all Western Balkan countries. Albanian PM Edi Rama estimated that Kosovo should also be included in the mini-Schengen area, which we consider problematic, given Serbia’s stance against its recognition. BiH is also hesitant, although it said it was committed to strengthening regional co-operation. Chairman of BiH Council of Ministers Denis Zvizdic said that his country will proceed to a serious analysis before taking position. Zvizdic noted that they have received guarantees that the initiative is not an attempt to substitute the EU integration nor derogates from regional agreements, such as CEFTA.

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