Macedonia welcomes EU lifting visa restriction

13:50, December 01, 2009      

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Macedonia welcomed on Monday the European Union's decision to lift the visa restriction for its citizens as of December 19, saying it is a red-letter day for the western Balkan country.

"The visa liberalization decision is long-awaited for our citizens. It's a giant step towards the EU, boosting the feeling of belonging to the great European family," Macedonian President Gjorge Ivanov said.

He gave credit to citizens for their patience during the implementation of necessary, sometimes painful reforms, and praised the Macedonian government for its efforts in meeting the required standards.

"I am pleased to say that the EU remains committed to the great vision of a united, open continent. Macedonia keeps on with reforms, further opens its society and promotes democratic European values," Ivanov said.

He said that Macedonia is willing, capable and fully prepared to start the accession talks with the European Union by the end of this year and meet the challenges during the process.

EU interior ministers on Monday agreed to lift visa requirements for Serbia, Macedonia and Montenegro, as of December 19. Citizens of the three Balkan countries can travel freely to EUcountries in the Schengen zone from that date.

Macedonian Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski also welcomed the news, saying the today's decision is the recognition of everything his country has done in terms of reform process.

"This is a great, historic day for Macedonia. The EU has adopted the final decision on lifting the visa requirements for the citizens of Macedonia. This is a day that will be registered in the Macedonian history," Gruevski said.

Source: Xinhua
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