Opinion

Kosovars want to travel. Why will Europe not let us?

What a sad fate to live in the heart of the continent called Europe, and not being able to live it. Welcome to Kosovo!

This story is not a thriller but it is all based on the sad truth of this country, called Kosovo, which I do not want to judge either on the past or on the future but I would simply like to tell a European story.

A country that has two million inhabitants and is independent thanks to or because of that very same Europe, continues to be the only country where people live as if they were prisoners at Guantánamo Bay, isolated in the open sky.

The citizens of this country are the only ones on the continent who don’t have the right of freedom of movement, with the banal excuse that they do not reach the political/technical conditions to have such freedom.

Officially, because Kosovo is a ‘Kingdom of Corruption’ and organised crime is rife, so it is better to isolate the problem, right?

But is Europe not ashamed to use such undignified tactics when it has been present in the country for years and, what’s more, practically controlled it for several years?

Until now no Kosovar politician has been denied entry to Europe because of corruption. Indeed, the EU bureaucrats have elevated these people to interlocutors. If they are held to such a high standard, then who is corrupt?

Regarding crime; when one is called a criminal, this label infers that they do not care for the law, consequently in our case, the criminal elite have no problem crossing borders illegally, as they have always done and will continue to do so.

So since corrupt politicians and international criminals, such as drug traffickers and religious extremists can travel easily to conduct their business which part of Kosovo society is being denied the denying the right to move freely?

Luan is a young man of 34 years, with a specialist degree in sports sciences and he tells me that he never thought of leaving Kosovo, because he has his own house here, a good job, and he knows that nowhere else will be better. But Luan would like to be able to go to Europe just to see European gymnasiums and to be able to bring back modern equipment for his gym in Kosovo. Denied!

Bardha, 25, a telecommunications architect and fluent in English, French and Italian, as well as Albanian of course, says she has a good job in Prishtina and is very active in civil society but would like to be able to travel to Europe to meet dostat, a familiar term for friends from these parts. Denied!

Perparim, just 31 years old, is an excellent banker in Kosovo and his standard of living allows him to live well here, but he would love to go with his wife to watch Milan play football from time to time. Denied!

You can find many people like these in Kosovo, people who do not seem to matter to Europe.

Or you could say that if these people met all the requirements, they would have no problem getting a visa, and you are right. But there is another peculiar condition that would leave the majority of young Europeans without a visa: to get one, all embassies ask to you to prove that you have a couple of thousand euros deposited in your bank account.

I wonder how many young people, and not just young people in Europe, have over three digits deposited in their own name today?

Luan, Bardha, Perparimi and many others like them could comfortably spend the weekend in an EU capital but to have a couple of thousand euros in the bank is actually quite difficult if they live and work honestly in Kosovo.

But this, of course, is not a problem for the children of the politicians; corrupt as Europe calls them, because for them that amount in the bank is an unremarkable detail.

As you can see, it is the healthiest part of society that is being condemned by these restrictions and in doing so, in a certain way, it is actually supporting more corruption and crime.

In this country, unlike all the member states of the European Union, no group, association or political party exists or ever existed that has spoken out against the country’s accession to the European community, this is not an insignificant statement.

But if Europe continues in this way, then young Kosovars – driven by frustration – may rethink these perennial refusals.

True, two million Kosovars may not be important to Europe, and how would you expect them to be when a neighborhood in Rome, Paris or Berlin has more inhabitants. But perhaps the European bureaucrats have forgotten about geopolitics and don’t remember that this region, from the most ancient empires of the continent, has been desirable precisely because of its geo-strategic position.

This discrimination is felt everyday by the people in the youngest European republic. Are levels of corruption and crime lower om Kosovo’s neighbours? Does the drug trafficking that gets pinned on Kosovo drop from the sky? Or does it also pass through these countries?

I want to be positive and think that soon this article of mine will be resigned to the past, but for now I feel obligated to raise my voice to the injustice and unfairness, in my opinion, that is being done daily to the inhabitants of this pocket  of Europe.

As a young man raised and educated in European universities, with the ideas of European humanism, it makes me feel sad that my continent can still discriminate its inhabitants in this way.

The views expressed in this opinion editorial are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Emerging Europe’s editorial policy. 

About the author

Liridon Blakaj

Liridon Blakaj

Liridon Blakaj is the Prishtina representative of AICS, the Italian Agency for Development Cooperation.

Add Comment

Click here to post a comment