Local view for "http://purl.org/linkedpolitics/eu/plenary/2009-11-11-Speech-3-243"

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"For the citizens of the Western Balkans, the abolition of the visa requirement for travel to the European Union does not only have a technical dimension, but an exceptional political charge and significance as well. Today, we rightly commemorated in Parliament the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall and of full-blown socialism. However, Skopje, Podgorica and Belgrade will, during this Christmas and New Year, finally get to celebrate the fall of a visa wall which has separated them from us in the European Union for almost 12 years. For nearly 20 years, the majority of the population of the former Yugoslavia has been denied the opportunity of travelling freely across Europe, which is something they were used to previously, when they were still citizens of the now collapsed socialist federation. We are beginning to see the ugly consequences of such isolation, which has lasted an entire generation, and it is high time that we put an end to it. However, the Macedonians, the Montenegrins and the Serbs should be joined by the Bosnians and Herzegovinians, the Albanians and the Kosovars as early as possible in 2010. That alone will enable the new generations of those countries to finally see and experience the outside world, establish contacts with other Europeans, contribute to the development of European values at home and equip their nations for fully-fledged membership in our common European story – the European Union. As Parliament rapporteur for Macedonia, I have received a large number of phone calls in recent days from citizens of various Balkan countries. I wish to reassure them, loud and clear, that their visa-free travel to the EU is not a substitute for their accession to the EU. What their free travel in the EU amounts to is a step towards fully-fledged membership of the EU."@en1

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