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Dutch MPs propose scrapping of visa-free travel for Albanians in Schengen zone

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Four Members of Dutch Parliament have tabled a motion to scrap temporarily visa-free travelling for Albanian nationals in the Schengen Zone, as part of fight against organized crime.

Dutch Parliament endorsed the motion last week, April 11, securing the support of the majority. Now the Parliament will ask the Government of the Netherlands to propose to the European Commission initiate the “emergency brake” procedure, which enables suspension of visa-free travel.

The motion was filed by MP Madeleine van Toorenburg of the Christian Democrats, Liberal-Conservative Jeroen van Wijngaarden, Jasper van Dijk from the Socialist Party a co-petitions and fellow Nico Drost from the Christian Union, as a move on fight against organized crime.

“The parliament, after hearing the deliberation, noting that there has been a substantial increase in criminal activities by the Albanian Mafia in the Netherlands and these criminal organizations are abusing the possibility of travelling through Europe visa-free and thus further expanding their smuggling network;

Noting that the suspension of the visa requirement for Albania was subject to various conditions, including the fight against cross-border crime, the parliament calls on the government to submit a request to the European Commission to initiate the emergency braking procedure to temporarily suspend Albania’s visa liberalization and to inform the House of progress,” the note on the decision of the Parliament reads.

Motion submitter, MP Van Toorenburg, said to the plenary that there are 6 times more Albanians in the Netherlands than officially registered.

The Emergency Break is a Schengen Visa suspension mechanism regulated through EC Regulation 1289/2013. It permits the suspension the visa exemption for third country nationals in specific occasions considered as “emergency situations”. The suspension can take place with a simple majority of votes by the European Commission.

In January 2018, France had also threatened to restore the Schengen visa regime for Albanians, after the country received 7,630 asylum applications from Albanians in 2017.

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Vucic insists on EU membership guarantee as part of Kosovo deal

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Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said he will seek a guarantee that his country would join the European Union in 2025 as part of any deal with Kosovo which would pave the way for both countries to enter the bloc.

Serbia and its former province Kosovo committed to an EU-mediated dialogue to improve relations and resolve all disputes between them in 2013, but little progress has been made since then.

“If we ever reach an agreement with Pristina, Serbia would need to get a clear guarantee that it would become EU member in 2025,” Vucic told The Standard in an interview.

Vucic and Kosovo’s President Hashim Thaci abruptly called off a tete-a-tete meeting in Brussels last Friday, where the two sides were expected to discuss a land swap plan for the first time.

Vucic said it could take up to 10 years for Belgrade and Pristina to reach an agreement due to many differences of opinion.

“Sometimes I smile when I hear how people simplify things and say that the deal comes down to a line – I will give you three villages and I will get six villages in return,” he said.

“If we were ever to reach a deal

[with Pristina]

it would have to be an overall deal that would include not only relations between us and the Albanians in Kosovo, but it would also have to include a resolution of our EU path and further economic progress,” he said.

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120 Albanian nationals seeking asylum in France return to Albania

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“Deportation from EU countries is accompanied by additional measures, including a ban on travel to the Schengen area for up to several years, Perparim Dema, the Head of the Rinas Police Commissariat warned.

At the Rinas airport, 120 Albanian nationals, asylum seekers in France, have voluntarily returned, avoiding thus possible penalties stemming from the failure to comply with the Schengen area residence permits.

This was one of the largest voluntary repatriation operations. According to the Head of the Rinas Police Commissariat, Perparim Dema, this operation is important as their return was voluntary – an auxiliary element in preventing irregular movement in the Schengen area.

Appealing to Albanian citizens to respect the rules of movement, Dema said “I want to appeal to all Albanian citizens not to abuse the freedom of movement. Albania is a safe country and it is considered by EU countries. There is no chance to have asylum applications approved.”

Albanian citizens, who agreed to return voluntarily from France, avoided possible penalties from the failure to comply with the regulation of Schengen areas. “Deportation from European Union (EU) countries is accompanied by additional measures, including a ban on travel to the Schengen areas for several years,” a press release said.

Perparim Dema, Director of Rinas Police Station, called on Albanian citizens to respect the rules of movement in Schengen areas.

According to Eurostat official data, 5,035 Albanian citizens applied for asylum in EU countries in the second quarter of 2019.

Another 100 Albanian citizens were repatriated on Wednesday from France, Belgium and Germany for violating the rules of movement in Schengen area.

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Earthquake jolts Albania

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A 3.1-magnitude earthquake hit Albania last night, with tremor felt in western parts of North Macedonia, the Seismological Observatory at the Faculty of Natural Sciences and Mathematics said on Monday.

The quake struck at 23:15, the epicenter was 115 kilometers southwest of Skopje.

The quake, with a magnitude of 3.1 on the Richter, was felt in the western parts of our country with an intensity of III on the European macro-seismic scale.

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