Spain has confirmed that it now recognises Kosovo passports, allowing its citizens visa-free entry under the visa liberalisation that came into force for Kosovars in all Schengen countries on 1st January – though this does not amount to recognition of Kosovo’s sovereignty.
As of 1st January, Kosovars could travel throughout the EU and Schengen Area without needing a visa. However, this move does not change Spain’s position of non-recognition of Kosovo’s independence, adding that “all non-recognising states have accepted the use of ordinary Kosovar passports which in no way implies recognition of Kosovo.”
The European Commission also updated its guidance on travel documents, stating that “from 1 January 2024, Spain recognises passports issued by Kosovo. This change does not constitute, by any means, an official recognition of Kosovo as an independent state.”
The news from Spain came as something of a surprise as in April of 2023, Spanish Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Albares said citizens of Kosovo would not be able to enter the country in 2024 without a visa, despite visa liberalisation coming into force.
“Spain has a traditional policy of non-recognition of Kosovo, and that traditional policy leads to non-recognition of Kosovo passports, and it is something that we have been applying consistently already for many years, and it is well known,” Albares said at the time.
Meanwhile, Greece has been edging closer to recognition, with rumours swirling that such an announcement could be imminent but it depends on “the right timing”.
In December, Kosovo’s Deputy Prime Minister Besnik Bislimi told Euractiv that while Greece does not recognise Kosovo’s independence, it still has closer ties with Kosovo than the majority of EU countries that do recognise it.
Asked whether Greece could be first over the line regarding recognition, Bislimi said, “We understand that five EU non-recognisers have five specific situations within them, and this is why we cannot use the same medicine or the same approach for all of them.”
(Voice of America, Euractiv, 08.01.2024)
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