Thursday, December 07, 2006

Briefing on visa liberalization process

The upcoming launch of visa facilitation talks with the European Union will be the main theme of today's briefing at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The heads of Macedonia's negotiation teams on visa facilitation and readmission, Agneza Rusi and Antonio Sanev, will brief on the preparations for the launch of negotiations, slated for November 30. Macedonia has the distinction of being the first among the Western Balkan countries to embark on negotiations for visa facilitation. Earlier this month, the European Commission received a mandate to open negotiations on agreements to facilitate the procedure of issuing short-stay visas and on readmission between the European Community and the Western Balkans. The first round of technical negotiations will open on 30 November, with a meeting of the Macedonian Foreign Minister Antonio Miloshoski and the EU Justice Commissioner Franco Frattini. The first round of negotiations on the readmission agreement will kick off on 1 December 2006. Macedonian authorities expect that negotiations be a quick and transitional phase towards liberalization of visa regime. The European Commission is proposing to the Member States a list of facilitations, including simplification of documentary evidence to be submitted in support of a visa application, issuing multiple-entry visas with a long period of validity, waiving or reducing the handling fees for certain categories of visitors, setting deadlines for processing visa applications, and possible exemption from visa obligations for holders of diplomatic passports. Students, scientists, businessmen and journalists are likely to be the first to benefit from visa facilitation agreement.

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