We're not bribing countries to withdraw Kosovo recognition by abolishing visas - Dacic tells MPs
The abolition of visas is a sign of friendship with a country and of mutual respect between countries, the minister said
The Serbian Assembly today started an extraordinary session at the request of 156 deputies to discuss visa abolition for several countries. Deputies will consider the Agreement between the Government of Serbia and the Government of Paraguay on the abolition of visas for holders of diplomatic and official passports, as well as the Agreement between the Government of Serbia and the Government of the Republic of Myanmar on the abolition of visas for diplomatic and official passports.
They will also consider the Agreement between the Government of Serbia and the Government of Suriname on visa abolition for holders of ordinary, diplomatic, and official/special passports and the Agreement between the Government of Serbia and the Government of the Dominican Republic on the abolition of visas for holders of diplomatic and official passports.
"Serbian citizens can travel visa-free to 71 countries, while holders of diplomatic and official passports can enter and stay visa-free in 93 countries," Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic said today, expressing hope that the number will grow.
Explaining to deputies of the Serbian Assembly the proposals to abolish visas for several countries, Dacic said that there is a visa-free regime with all EU countries except the UK and Ireland, but also with Russia, China, Brazil, Ukraine and other countries.
"Our policy is a policy of openness toward the world and the need to have a visa-free regime with as many countries as possible, to allow the movement of people, goods and services, develop political relations and improve overall cooperation," said Dacic.
He stated that the Serbian passport globally ranks at the 28th spot and explained that this ranking primarily refers to the number of countries Serbian citizens can go to without a visa.
He said that the visa regime of Serbia, as well as the visa regime of other countries, is very "variable and living matter" that often changes according to the needs of harmonizing relations with other countries, but always in accordance with the state and national interests of the country and citizens.
"The abolition of visas is a sign of friendship towards a country and of mutual respect between countries," the minister said, noting however that there are often objections coming from Brussels as to why Serbia had abolished visas for some countries.
He stressed that each country has its own state and national interest, and unless the visa-free regime is jeopardizing other principles such as the issue of illegal migration and asylum-seekers, Serbia has no reason to abandon its policy until six months before joining the EU, when it must align the system with the EU whitelist.
Dacic dismissed criticism that can be heard in the public about Serbia bribing countries by removing visa requirements in order for them to withdraw their recognition of Kosovo - and wondered what kind of recognition that would be, if a state withdrew it because of the abolition of visas.
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