Balkan ‘Mini-Schengen’ Deal Signed

New agreement on border control-free travel between Albania, Macedonia and Montenegro brings Balkans closer to establishing EU-style Schengen zone.

Albania, Macedonia and Montenegro signed on Thursday a new treaty allowing their citizens to cross borders and travel within the three countries with just an identity card.

The agreement, signed by the Albanian foreign minister, Edmond Haxhinasto, and his Macedonian and Montenegrin counterparts, aims to expand the so-called ‘Balkan Schengen zone’ and facilitate freedom of movement between countries in the region.

“This is a very important development, because we are making concrete steps toward freedom of movement in the region,” said  Haxhinasto after signing the accord.

Albania reached a similar deal with Kosovo in 2010 and Haxhinasto added that Tirana expected to sign an agreement with Bosnia and Herzegovina in the near future.

Macedonia and Serbia have indicated they also plan to sign a similar agreement.

“This move will aid the integration of our countries,” said Nikola Popovski, Macedonia’s foreign minister. “We are sending a signal of what integration means for all of us.’

Milan Rocen, the Montenegrin foreign minister, underlined that the agreement would improve travel arrangements for business representatives and tourists across the border of the two countries.

“We share a common history, the present and a common future in the EU,” he said.

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