Anđela Mićanović: substantial work must be done to facilitate labor mobility within the region

"When one relates to this impact of visa liberalization that we will be able to do this short term travel to the regional countries. And why does this matter? Best stories in my life that I can tell you about can indeed be found between the pages of my passport and I am sure that most of you can agree with me here. Because every trip was not only a chance to walk different streets or to explore different cities that we were visiting but it rather had a deep and long term effect in my way of thinking and idea about people and life because travelling keeps our eyes wide open and somehow it changes us for better.

Our governments keep on promising that they will promote peace and cooperation, we’re witnessing growing tensions and living in a region divided in so many different ways. As a national of Montenegro, fortunatelly I have never been denied entry to any country I wished to travel to, from Europe to the Americas, to Asia, let alone to a country from my region. However, sadly, my peers -- as you can hear -- from the region, are facing these challenges.

As I was growing up I started to get to know or learn about stories of people for instance from Kosovo who got married to a person from Bosnia and Herzegovina and could not bring their families to share their joy. I use to meet young people who wish to collaborate on different projects and jointly contribute to the development of this region however the event was held in Kosovo, it was a quite long and difficult process as you can from Samir, for them to get there. And the most striking example that I would like to share with you today, was the story of one girl from Kosovo who was travelling with my sister across the Balkans through one program, however the idea was to take young people in a bus through the region and help them to get to know each other and get to know the culture of the different countries of the Western Balkan region. When she was at the Bosnian border she was denied entry, not because she did something wrong but because of her national identity.

If the Western Balkans stands to change negative trends in emigration, the substantial work must be done to facilitate labor mobility within the region. So the Western Balkan countries - while we are lagging behind the EU countries in many aspects and at the same time we wish to progress, then we need to share knowledge and experience and find a way to borrow our human capital to one another, rather than to the rest of the world."