Kosovo introduces visa regime for 87 countries

Kosovo on Monday started a visa regime for citizens of 87 countries, including China and Russia, for the first time since it declared independence from Serbia.

"Just issued the first entry visa of the Republic of Kosovo to a citizen from Ghana," Foreign Minister Enver Hoxhaj wrote on his Twitter account.

Hoxhaj, who personally issued the first visa in the consulate in Istanbul, said the visa regime would protect Kosovo from human trafficking and illegal migration, the ministry said in a statement.

The selection of countries whose citizens need a visa would be made based on "security threats for Kosovo and for international peace and stability," the government said last month when it decided to introduce the regime.

The list of 87 countries includes Russia and China, UN Security Council permanent members who do not recognise Kosovo as an independent state and have been blocking its bid to become a UN member.

Apart from Russia, Moldova, Belarus and Ukraine are the only European countries whose citizens are required to obtain a visa, as well as a number of Asian and African states, including Egypt, India, Indonesia and Pakistan.

Citizens of some countries would be able to obtain a visa on Kosovo's borders, while others would have to apply in a consulate, the ministry said, providing no further details.

Kosovo unilaterally declared independence from Serbia in 2008. More than 100 countries, including the United States and all but five EU member states, have recognised its independence.