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MADRID: Spain now accepts passports issued by Kosovo but still does not recognise it as an independent state separate from Serbia, Spanish Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Albares said Monday.

Madrid recognised the passports after a long-awaited European Union visa liberalisation scheme came into force on January 1, allowing Kosovars citizens to travel within Europe’s borderless zone without a visa. The new regime enables Kosovars into the Schengen zone visa-free for periods of up to 90 days in any 180-day period. Until now, Spain was the only EU member refusing to recognise Kosovo’s independence that also refused entry to Kosovo passport holders, even if they had obtained a Schengen visa.

“Spain applies this measure as a member of the Schengen area, as do all states that do not recognise Kosovo within the European Union — and many others in the world — which recognise these ordinary passports without this implying recognition of Kosovo,” Albares told reporters.

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