VISA LIBERALISATION DIALOGUE WITH EU
European Commission Vice-President Franco Frattini, Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski, Vice-Premier Gabriela Konevska-Trajkovska and the Interior Minister of the Union's Presidency holder Slovenia, Dragutin Mate welcomed Wednesday in Skopje an official start of EU-Macedonia dialogue on free visa regime.
Gruevski expressed hope for the dialogue to be completed soon and thus the free visa regime to be set into force early next year. Macedonia has proven to be a loyal, credible partner by its achievements so far, Gruevski said. The visa liberalization and launching of the EU entry talks are issues of vital importance for Macedonia and its citizens in terms of guaranteeing the right of free movement, Gruevski added.
In regard to visa liberalization, Gruevski said that Macedonia had already introduced new biometric passport, identity card and integrated border management system, harmonized the national visa-migration regulations with the Union's legislation, which also refers to combating human trafficking and organized crime.
The dialogue's duration will depend on Macedonia's progress, Frattini said, encouraging the country to keep its pace. Macedonian Government has been working a lot and if it keep the pace, its ambitious plan for free visa regime will turn into reality by the yearend. Macedonia is part of the EU and should become its full-fledged member as soon as possible, Mate said, adding that the visa liberalization is a giant step to realizing the objective.
After the inauguration of National Visa Centre, FM Milososki said it would be fully operational by the year end.
Asked if Greece is obliged to respect the EU policy in terms of visa liberalization, Frattini said that visa issues were in charge of the European Commission, not part of inter-governments' arrangements.
Greece's Government has had no objections to launching the visa facilitation, and now the visa liberalization talks, Frattini said.