Germany closes consular sections in Belgrade

Other News Materials 27 February 2008 16:35 (UTC +04:00)

(dpa) - The German consulate has closed in Serbia thus preventing Serbians from travelling to Germany following attacks on diplomatic missions in Belgrade last week, diplomats said Wednesday.

The consulate would remain closed until further notice from Berlin, a source told Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa in Belgrade. There are currently no plans to reopen the consular section.

The consulate in Belgrade issues a large number of visas as hundreds of thousands of Serb "guest-workers" live and work in Germany.

Residents of Serbia would not be allowed to seek visas in German consulates in neighbouring states, diplomats said.

The move hits guest-workers' relatives hard as well as business people seeking to attend upcoming fairs such as the CeBIT in Hanover.

Germany is a part of the Schengen agreement, allowing border-free travel through most of Europe. Serbians, on the other hand, are among the few nations in Europe who still need Schengen visas to travel.

Unlike Germany, the United States are sending Serbian visa applicants to the Croatian capital Zagreb, 400 kilometres west of Belgrade.

The US embassy was ransacked and torched, and one charred corpse was left behind the riots last Thursday which broke out following protests at Kosovo's declaration of independence from Serbia.

Other diplomatic missions including the German, Croatian, Bosnian, Canadian and Turkish were also damaged in the violence.