Roma in the visa-Free Regime
Since the introduction of visa liberalization in 2009, the citizens of the Republic of Macedonia can travel visa-free to the Schengen countries. This change was welcomed as a great benefit due to its cutting the costs for obtaining a visa and the elimination of the visa administrative procedure. Nevertheless, it also caused an influx of asylum applications in EU member states. In order to ease the pressure resulting from this trend, the Republic of Macedonia, in danger of having its visa-waiver suspended, undertook measures to combat this phenomenon together with EU member states. The implemented measures resulted in changes in legislation, assessment procedures, fast-tracking asylum applications and information campaigns. Having said the above, this paper aims to examine the implemented measures and their impact, using desk research and analysis of all relevant domestic and international laws, documents and researches. Unfortunately, our research shows that these measures committed a great violation of fundamental rights of the members of the Roma community living in the Republic of Macedonia by restricting their right to freedom of movement and their right to equality and by violating their dignity. Due to the undertaken measures, approximately 20.000 Roma were refused their right to leave the country, while many were fasttracked
and forcibly returned to Macedonia from EU countries.