The Macedonian Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that it would tighten the Visa issuance procedures for all non-EU countries including Albanians. For several years now, Albanians would get a Macedonian visa at the border with just their passport, however, starting from February 2007, this will not be possible.
Albanians will now have to apply for a Macedonian visa at their embassy in Albania and provide additional guarantees for travel to the country. Thus submit themselves to another set of barriers to travel and free movement.
The Macedonian authorities claim that these new restrictions have been introduced to be more in line with EU standards, which may be considered quite unfair, especially keeping in mind that according to the same source, last year there were about 75,000 visas issued at the border for Albanian citizens traveling to or transit through the country.
I don’t know what would be the best response to this new bureaucratic development; however I don’t think that it should be left at that. If Macedonia does not care to have Albanians travel freely to their country, than may be the same restrictions should be placed on its citizens, as well!
Moreover, if EU aspirations are the true reasons behind such measures by the Macedonian government, then such aspirations are true for the Albanian one as well, but they choose not to apply them.
What is even more confusing is the fact that this whole process is happening while the new EU Visa procedures are being simplified for all non-EU measures, including Albania.
Another possible reason could have to do with putting added restrictions on the movement of criminals and about trafficking issues, but so far no one has shed more light in this regard, and we are left with is a bitter taste in our mouth!
Update: These are some more links where politicians are commenting on the issue: here and here