2 Julija Simic, Euractive, 10.11.2019; Link: www.euractiv.com/section/enlargement/news/three-countries-agree-mini-schengen-in-the-balkans/ Before concluding an agreement with a neighbouring state, the Schengen state must obtain the agreement of the European Commission, which must confirm that the draft agreement complies with the regulation. The agreement can only be concluded if the neighbouring state at least grants reciprocal rights to EEA and Swiss nationals residing on the Schengen side of the border region and accepts the repatriation of persons who abuse the border agreement. ETIAS does not only apply to Greece, this document is also requested for the 26 states of the Schengen Agreement. You can contact the Visa Controller at any time to see if all countries on your itinerary apply for an ETIAS. Visa liberalisation negotiations between the EU and the Western Balkans (excluding Kosovo) started in the first half of 2008 and were completed in 2009 (for Montenegro, North Macedonia and Serbia) and 2010 (for Albania and Bosnia and Herzegovina). Before the total abolition of visas, the Western Balkan countries (Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, North Macedonia and Serbia) had signed in 2008 „visa facilitation agreements“ with the Schengen countries. Visa facilitation agreements were then intended to reduce waiting times, reduce visa fees (including free visas for certain categories of travellers) and reduce red tape. However, in practice, the new procedures have proved to be longer, more cumbersome and more costly, and many people have complained that it is easier to obtain visas before the entry into force of the facilitation agreements.    Schengen States that share an external land border with a third country have the right, in accordance with EU Regulation 1931/2006, to conclude or maintain bilateral agreements with neighbouring third countries for the purpose of implementing a local border transport regime.  These agreements define a border area that can extend on either side of the border for up to 50 kilometres (31 miles) and provide for the granting of permits for local border traffic to the inhabitants of the border area. Permits may be used to cross the border within the border area, are not stamped at the border crossing and must indicate the name and photo of the holder, as well as a clarified statement that the holder does not have the right to move outside the border area and that any abuse is punishable by criminal penalties.
26 (News) European Parliament, 24/10/2019; Link: www.europarl.europa.eu/news/en/press-room/20191021IPR64717/failure-to-open-accession-talks-with-albania-and-north-macedonia-is-a-mistake There are or have been projects for Lithuania-Russia, Poland-Belarus, Bulgaria-Serbia and Bulgaria-North Macedonia local transport agreements.  The agreement between Poland and Belarus is expected to enter into force until 2012,282], but Belarus has been delayed with no transposition date set (October 2012).  Although relations between Serbia and Kosovo have been historically strained, the „Kosovo and Serbia Economic Normalization Agreements“ were signed in September 2020, in which both nations committed to joining the Schengen mini-area. . . .