Schengen enlargement ceremony held in Estonia
www.chinaview.cn 2007-12-22 14:12:22   Print

European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso speaks during the ceremony marking the enlargement of the Schengen area, in Tallinn, capital of Estonia, Dec. 21, 2007. Nine European Union (EU) countries -- Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Slovenia, Slovakia and the Czech Republic -- officially joined the passport-free Schengen Area at 0:00 a.m. Friday local time, in the biggest-ever enlargement of the Schengen zone, expanding it from 15 to 24 countries. (Xinhua Photo)
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    TALLIN, Dec. 21 (Xinhua) -- A ceremony marking the enlargement of the Schengen area was held here on Friday as nine countries joined the borderless area.

    European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso, Portuguese Prime Minister Jose Socrates, Estonia President Toomas Hendrik Ilves and prime ministers from Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Finland attended the ceremony.

    The ceremony was held as the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia, which joined the European Union in 2004, opened their land and sea borders to 15 other Schengen states on Friday. Internal border controls at their airports will be lifted on March 30, 2008.

Estonian President Toomas Hendrik Ilves (front L) and Latvian President Valdis Zatlers (front R) attend the Schengen joining ceremony at the check point border between Estonia's Valga and Latvia's Valka, Dec. 21, 2007. Nine European Union (EU) countries -- Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Slovenia, Slovakia and the Czech Republic -- officially joined the passport-free Schengen Area at 0:00 a.m. Friday local time, in the biggest-ever enlargement of the Schengen zone, expanding it from 15 to 24 countries. (Xinhua Photo)

Estonian President Toomas Hendrik Ilves (front L) and Latvian President Valdis Zatlers (front R) attend the Schengen joining ceremony at the check point border between Estonia's Valga and Latvia's Valka, Dec. 21, 2007. Nine European Union (EU) countries -- Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Slovenia, Slovakia and the Czech Republic -- officially joined the passport-free Schengen Area at 0:00 a.m. Friday local time, in the biggest-ever enlargement of the Schengen zone, expanding it from 15 to 24 countries. (Xinhua Photo)
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    Estonian President Ilves said at the ceremony that the enlargement of the visa-free area marked a deepening trust among European people and mutual trust is just one of the cornerstones of the European Union.

    European Commission President Barroso extended congratulations to the countries on their joining the area, saying the expansion will serve the interests of the European states and facilitate people's life.

    Portuguese Prime Minister Socrates, whose country currently holds the rotating EU presidency, said this move, which was significant in the EU development history, will help promote the bloc's further opening up and prosperity.

Border soldiers of Estonia and Latvia remove barrier during the Schengen joining ceremony at the check point border between Estonia's Valga and Latvia's Valka, Dec. 21, 2007. Nine European Union (EU) countries -- Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Slovenia, Slovakia and the Czech Republic -- officially joined the passport-free Schengen Area at 0:00 a.m. Friday local time, in the biggest-ever enlargement of the Schengen zone, expanding it from 15 to 24 countries. (Xinhua Photo)

Border soldiers of Estonia and Latvia remove barrier during the Schengen joining ceremony at the check point border between Estonia's Valga and Latvia's Valka, Dec. 21, 2007. Nine European Union (EU) countries -- Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Slovenia, Slovakia and the Czech Republic -- officially joined the passport-free Schengen Area at 0:00 a.m. Friday local time, in the biggest-ever enlargement of the Schengen zone, expanding it from 15 to 24 countries. (Xinhua Photo)
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    Finnish Prime Minister Matti Vanhanen traveled by ferry to Tallin, becoming a witness of the visa-free process.

    The Schengen Agreement was signed by Belgium, Germany, France, Luxembourg and the Netherlands in 1985. They were later joined by Italy, Spain, Portugal, Greece, Austria, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Norway and Iceland.

    Under the Schengen scheme, nationals of the signatory states can move freely within the area. Third country nationals can travel freely within the area with a "Schengen visa" issued by any of the member states of the area.

Editor: Du Guodong
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