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IP/08/398

Tirana/Brussels, 6 March 2008

Vice President Frattini in Tirana to launch visa free travel dialogue with Albania

Vice President of the European Commission Franco Frattini will visit Tirana on Friday, 7 March 2008 to launch the visa free travel dialogue with Albania.

On the eve of his visit to Albania Vice President Franco Frattini, Commissioner for Freedom, Security and Justice said: "I come personally to Tirana to bring to the Albanian citizens a strong, positive political message from the European Union, by officially opening the dialogue on visa liberalisation between the EU and their country. This process aims at achieving the common and shared goal which is the free movement of citizens.  Moreover this dialogue will foster the promotion of people mobility between the EU and the Western Balkan countries as a key element towards closer cooperation with the countries in the region".

Vice President Franco Frattini, is coming to Tirana to launch the Visa Free Travel Dialogue with Albania. The Dialogue will be opened on the Albanian side by the Albanian Prime Minister Sali Berisha. During his short visit VP Frattini will also meet with the Albanian President Bamir Topi and the Speaker of the Parliament Jozefina Topalli. The aim of the dialogue is to give clear indications to the Albanian authorities on the measures that need to be taken to grant visa free travel to all citizens of Albania.

The Council of the European Union on 28 January welcomed the intention of the European Commission to launch a visa free travel dialogue with Albania and all other countries in the region and expressed its readiness to further discuss this issue, based on the Commission's Communication on the Western Balkans issued today. The Communication defines detailed roadmaps setting clear benchmarks to be met by all the countries in the region in order to gradually advance towards visa free travel. This will enable the Council and the Commission to closely monitor progress in necessary reforms.

Albanian citizens are from 1 January 2008 already enjoying the benefits of the visa facilitation regime which sets out uniformed visa application and issuing procedures for a broad range of categories of citizens ranging from students, sportsmen and women, cultural workers, journalists, people visiting family members living in the EU, people in need of medical treatment, economic operators working with EU companies, etc. The visa facilitation agreement also foresees a lower cost of visas (€35 instead of €60), longer duration of visas, free visas for children and pensioners, etc.

To find out more about Vice President Frattini's work please see his website http://www.ec.europa.eu/commission_barroso/frattini/index_en.htm


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