The European Commission has warned Montenegro that it still has not fully harmonized its visa policy with the EU countries, but that, on the contrary, it “deviated even more from the recommended harmonization” last year and at the beginning of this year.
Officials of the Western Balkans and the European Union agreed in Berlin on measures to prevent illegal migration on the “Balkan route”, the most important of which are the harmonization of the visa policy of the Western Balkan countries with EU standards and the suppression of people smuggling, the German Ministry of the Interior announced.
At the meeting of interior ministers within the Berlin process on Thursday, an agreement was reached on effective border protection with the support of the European agency Frontex and on procedures for returning refugees who do not have a legal basis for staying in the EU to their home countries.
In May of this year, the Montenegrin government received a temporary visa exemption for citizens of Saudi Arabia, which is valid from June to September, with the aim of compensating for the decline in the number of tourists coming from Russia and Ukraine. Citizens of 13 countries – Armenia, Kazakhstan, Russia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, China, Cuba, Ecuador, Kuwait, Turkey, Qatar, Kosovo* and Saudi Arabia – are exempt from visa requirements for short-term stays, either seasonally or permanently.
The seasonal exemption measures from visas are not in accordance with the legal acquis of the EU, and these countries are on the list of EU countries whose citizens need a visa for the EU, according to the European Commission Report, the RTCG portal reported.
In addition, foreigners who have a residence permit in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) can enter Montenegro without a visa and stay in the country for up to ten days. It is added that Montenegrin authorities have discovered several cases of abuse of this visa regime.
“Montenegro should ensure increased harmonization of its visa policy with the EU list of third countries that require a visa. As part of the post-visa liberalization process, Montenegro continued to implement relevant measures to prevent abuse of the visa-free regime with the EU and reported on this on a monthly basis. After years of continuous decline, the number of applicants for asylum from Montenegro in EU member states and countries associated with Schengen increased from 140 requests submitted in 2020 to 250 in 2021”, the Report states, local media reports.