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Unanimous support for visa free regime for Albania and Bosnia and Herzegovina

8 November 2010

At their meeting in Brussels today, EU interior ministers unanimously supported the Commission's proposal on a visa free regime for citizens from Albania and Bosnia and Herzegovina travelling to the EU.

"I am very happy about this. To be able to travel to the EU without a visa is a great freedom for many people. But visa-free regime is also an important step in bringing the EU and the countries on western Balkans closer to one another", commented EU Commissioner Cecilia Malmström the decision of the ministerial council.

At a press conference in Brussels today, both Cecilia Malmström and Belgium's asylum and migration minister Melchior Wathelet underlined that the visa-free regime goes hand in hand with the responsibility from the governments of the two countries to make sure that the agreement is not being abused.

"The responsible ministers from Albania and Bosnia and Herzegovina were present at the meeting and they reassured us that this agreement will be used in the way it is intended, which is to facilitate for citizens to meet across EU borders", said Cecilia Malmström.

Watch today's press conference and read more about the agreement, which is foreseen to enter into force before Christmas.

The ministerial council continues during the afternoon. Among the other issues on the agenda are the asylum package and the state of play in the negotiations on the EU asylum policy. The ministers also discussed terrorism after the recent warnings about suspected bombs in cargo airplanes. Moreover, Cecilia Malmström reported from her visit to Greece last week, after the Greek government requested EU support in handling the situation with the many people entering Greece via the Turkish land border.