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The lucrative under-the-counter business in Schengen visas has been snowballing recently in Serbia and Montenegro. Nowadays it cannot match even the scale it used to have in Bulgaria some five years ago.
An avalanche of ads on the Internet address guarantees "100-percent sure" Schengen visas for 2000-3000 euro. Standart dialed some of the phone numbers the ads offer. The agents assured us that a visa is "sure" if an applicant is a male. For females it is "more difficult" and apart from a fee the agents insist on a "personal interview."
In contrast to Bulgaria and Romania, which were crossed out from the Schengen black list in 2001, the citizens of Macedonia, Serbia and Montenegro still need a visa to travel within the EU Schengen zone where borders have been lifted. Before that under-the-counter visas were a common practice, a pubic secret of a sort. The loudest corruption scandal burst in the French Embassy in Sofia, which cost a post to the then ambassador Dominique Chassard.
However, in other countries the diplomats persist in disregarding the bureaucratic requirements and issue visas for money or sex.
Georgi Gotev