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. [290] [291] [292] (l) Third-country nationals holding diplomatic passports can enter the country under visa facilitation agreements ( without a visa After Slovakia, Denmark, the Czech Republic and Poland announced in mid-March the total closure of their national borders, the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, said: “Some controls may be fair general travel bans are not considered by the World Health Organisation to be the most effective. In addition, they have strong social and economic repercussions, disrupting people`s lives and affairs across borders. [166] Von der Leyen also apologized to Italy, amid widespread Italian discontent with Europe`s lack of solidarity. [167] Until the end of March 2020, almost all internal Schengen borders were closed for unnecessary travel. Until July 2020, most of the borders closed because of the coronavirus were reopened. Permits are issued with a validity period of between one and five years and allow you to stay in the border area for a maximum of three months. Permits can only be issued to legitimate residents of the border area who have been in the border area for at least one year (or more, if the bilateral agreement so provides).