Tuesday, November 9, 2010

EU's lift the visa requirement for Bosnians and Albanians

The EU's decision to lift the visa requirement for Bosnians and Albanians travelling to Europe is good news for them but the EU and Turkey still cannot even reach an agreement for Turkish business people travelling to Europe. The Albanian prime minister heralds,of course, the news as "the best greeting card Albanians could receive for the festive season". One very relieved Albanian woman reveals how difficult it used to be to obtain a visa for Belgium. A diplomatic row meant that she was unable to apply for a Belgian visa directly in Albania. Instead she had to travel to the Belgian embassy in Bulgaria, "which meant spending a week in Sofia, paying for a hotel and an interpreter to help you with your application".
But it has to be said that "the Netherlands was against, but voted in favour" of the measure. The Netherlands' new Immigration Minister Gerd Leers tells that there was no point in sticking to his guns as "it would have left the Netherlands isolated; this way we've achieved the best result possible". However, the result of this decision is "an emergency brake", which means that the visa requirement can be reinstated if "it turns out that the EU is swamped with Albanians and Bosnians who come here looking to stay".
The Dutch minister's position sounds plausible enough but,  it's cutting no ice with Geert Wilders, leader of the populist Freedom Party on whose support the government relies. He attacks the minister's performance as "extremely weak" and insists, "of course he should have voted against. This is a bad result: the borders are now open and that's no good for anyone in the Netherlands". He continues "We will judge Gerd Leers on his results. Let's hope they improve and that he shows more backbone."
The saga continues

Day Opening - November 9

Calton Hill - Edinburgh, Scotland