Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic, the Prime Minister of North Macedonia and the Prime Minister of Albania, Edi Rama have reached an agreement on the outlines of the so-called mini Schengen deal.
The implementation of this agreement will contribute to the development and economic growth of the three countries, as well as other countries in the Western Balkans. The Chairman of Bosnia and Herzegovina’s Council of Ministers Chairman Denis Zvizdic and the Montenegrin Economy Minister Dragica Sekulic were also present at the meetings between the three statesmen.
According to the agreement, the citizens of the three countries (Serbia, North Macedonia and Albania) won’t need to show passports when crossing their borders but only an ID card and trucks will not wait for hours at the border crossings. Zoran Zaev said that the ultimate goal of the regional initiative is the mutual recognition of all documents, including the documents of food agencies, college degrees and other state documents.
Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said that, by simplifying border inspections, the three countries will save close to 129 million euro. Also, this would benefit investors since they will be able the exchange workers much easier.
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Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama said that the idea behind forming the mini Schengen was not to divide the Western Balkans, which was already fragmented, but to cover all Balkan countries with this initiative.
“Our declaration, the agreement at the summit was written down and adopted in the six countries at the meetings we had,” Rama said.
He announced that the next meeting would be held in Durres on December 21st, with EU foreign policy representative Joseph Borrell attending the summit.
Chairman of the Council of Ministers of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Denis Zvizdic, said that Bosnia-Herzegovina still does not have a defined position on this regional initiative.
“Bosnia-Herzegovina will adopt its position in accordance with the procedures after relevant institutions, business community and experts conduct a serious analysis. We have received some guarantees that the initiative is not an attempt at substituting Euro-integration or derogating the existing regional agreements such as CEFTA”, Zvizdic said, adding that Euro-integration remains the “primary focus” of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
These are the concrete measures relating to the free movement of people, goods, services and capital among the three countries, agreed upon in Ohrid:
– Crossing the border only with an ID card
– Joint work permits and recognition of qualifications and diplomas
– Student exchange;
– Joint Research & Development projects;
– Introducing 24-hour working time for all border inspection services, with a focus on phytosanitary and veterinary inspection
– A unique set of documentation required for the transit of goods
– Amendments to the laws regarding the capital market, tax and financial system in all three countries, in order to create conditions for smooth flow of capital;
– Further strengthening of cross-border cooperation in combating transnational crime and terrorism, through cooperation in the field of migration and emergency assistance;
The initiative is reportedly open to all countries in the region.
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