The “European perspective” is key concept for integrating western Balkans into EU. For ordinary people freedom of movement might be the main carrot after nearly 20 years of isolation. Visa restrictions play an important role in controlling the movement of foreign nationals across borders. They reflect also the relationships between individual nations as well the status of a country within the international community of nations.
Visa restrictions change according to the political situation at any given time. For example some 20 years ago citizens of Yugoslavia could travel relatively free, but the breakup wars changed situation completely.
The main travel document is passport. Citizenship documented in passport regulates the level of free movement over borders; holder of one passport can travel relatively free around the globe while the choices of the holder of other passport are very limited. So passports can be ranked according to the visa-free access their holders.
Henley & Partners is a firm specialized in international immigration, consular and citizenship law and it has analyzed the visa regulations of all the countries and territories in the world. The following table ”Passport Rank 2012” is based to data published in “The Henley Visa Restrictions Index”. (Source and more about H&P please visit in their homepage )
My Passport Rank table below ranks passports according to how many countries it gives visa-free access. To table I have collected the Balkan countries, the BRIC countries, the U.S. and for comparison the best and the worst three positions. I have also indicated the change during last four years describing to how many countries more the passport gives visa-free access compared to situation on 2008.
And here is my ”Passport Rank 2012”:
|Passport Rank 2012 – Balkans by Ari Rusila|
|Rank||Passport of country||Visa free access to countries||2012/
|2||Finland, Germany, Sweden||168||+12|
|3||Belgium, France, Netherlands, UK||167||+12|
Generally speaking the freedom of movement has increased a lot globally as well in Balkans. Apart that I would like to point out some trivia. The new Kosovo passport, first issued by the Kosovo Government in July 2008, is still one of the least useful travel documents ever designed. Kosovo’s second declaration of independence has been recognized by 91 UN member states and Taiwan, but Kosovo passport gives visa-free access only to less than 40 countries. Also about 130 UN Member Nations have recognized the State of Palestine (Palestinian Territory), however its passport gives visa-free access only to 32. On the other hand Taiwan ( also UN outsider) has diplomatic relations with 23 countries but its passport holders can travel visa free to 120 countries.
Earlier I have covered this topic e.g. with following articles:
- Visa rank and the Western Balkans
- EU’s visa-freedom dividing Balkans
- Kosovo – an captured independence