Serbia to introduce visas for more third countries following increase in illegal migrants and EU pressure

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Tunisia and Burundi will not be the last countries to no longer enjoy the benefits of visa-free travel to Serbia, as the latter may end up canceling visa-free travel for many other countries.

According to EU observers, the Serbian Embassy to the EU has announced that it will align with the EU visa policy until the end of the year, indicating that the visa regime Free travel visas could also be scrapped for Russian nationals, reports SchengenVisaInfo.com.

Nationalities of around 20 countries, including Russians and Belarusians who are excluded from the EU visa waiver system, will potentially see their right to travel without a visa.

However, it is not yet known whether Belgrade will impose visas on certain countries, such as India and Turkey, which are the countries of origin of incoming migrants in recent months.

Specifically, Serbia saw an increase in the number of Cuban refugees, from 36 to 339, as well as Indian arrivals, which increased from 557 to 4,469. In addition, arrivals from Türkiye increased from 1,653 to 6,186, representing the most obvious increase in border crossings.

The Western Balkan route, which is mainly used by Syrian and Afghan nationals to cross the border into the EU in search of a better life, and an increase in refugees from Türkiye, Tunisia, India and Cuba appeared recently.

In 2021, Turkey, Tunisia, India, Cuba and Burundi accounted for 2.5% of illegal border crossings recorded on the Western Balkan route. It was up 20% so far this year.

Serbia’s visa-free list now includes Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Belarus, Bolivia, China, Cuba, Guinea-Bissau, India, Indonesia, Jamaica, Kyrgyzstan, Kuwait, Kazakhstan, Mongolia, Oman, Qatar, Russia, Suriname and Turkey.

However, Serbia is not the only country to experience an increase in illegal migration. A Czech EU Presidency document revealed earlier this month that northern Western Balkan member states were registering higher numbers of asylum seekers, mostly citizens of countries included in visa-free countries. in Serbia.

>> Czechia proposes visa-free travel ban for Western Balkan citizens due to irregular migration

Belgium has reported an increase in the number of asylum seekers from Cuba and Burundi, while the Border Violence Monitoring Network (BVMN) reveals an increase in violence against people on the border between Serbia and Hungary.

“This month, the BVMN has observed an increase in the number of pushbacks – and their level of violence – perpetrated by the Hungarian authorities at the Serbian-Hungarian border, which is currently the busiest road in the region”, the report pointed out.

Injuries include broken bones, dislocations, and reports of physical assaults with batons, belts, rubber bullets, as well as electroshock.

In the coming days, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen is expected to visit the Western Balkans, during which issues that concern the region, such as European aspirations, will potentially be discussed.

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