Currently, Kosovo citizens cannot yet travel to European countries or Schengen area without a visa. Just when its citizens were hoping that that would change towards the end of 2018, the Commissioner for European Neighborhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations, during his visit to Prishtina declared that visa liberalization for Kosovo will not be on the agenda of the Council of Ministers. He said that “this will probably happen in 2020, or maybe little bit earlier, but don’t become hostage of numbers”.
Really? So, there’s still some chance not to happen again? Does this mean that it will be further postponed until it is considered important enough to be on the agenda?
The disappointment of Kosovars related with this is bigger than ever!
At this point some people in Kosovo doubt the EU integration since it left Kosovo as the only country in the region isolated in this way for so long.
Liberalization was also used for several years by Kosovo's leaders to earn points during election campaigns, or even during their mandates, some of whom came up with dates when Kosovo citizens can move freely. Even now, when I think of it, I do not know where they found the courage to give such dates, when no EU representative had, until this point.
There are many things that can be assumed with all this crawl, but I would focus on those who are experiencing all this ... the people of Kosovo, the youngest population in Europe! Those who would probably go abroad for studies, to participate in cultural events, for tourism and job opportunities, on exchange visits and sport events. The ability to exercise such an elementary right and freedom would have numerous benefits for Kosovo and EU.
Personally, for various professional reasons I have been fortunate to travel a lot, and I see differences between the ease of travel of my peers in Europe and those of Kosovo. I will mention just a few conversations that I had with young Europeans whom I met by coincidence during my various trips in the recent months.
In September 2018, during my visit in Portugal, I had a conversation with three young people, a Dutch, a German, and a British.
The Dutch girl said I bought a one-way ticket. I don’t have an idea of how long I want to stay in Portugal, neither where I’m going after. Simply - I just quit my job and decided to travel without an itinerary nor do I think for how long.
The German girl said I came to work for 3 months as a volunteer but I changed my mind. So, I’m staying only 1 month and then I’m going somewhere else for another experience.
The English guy said tonight I’m going to another city but he changed his mind after half an hour and prolonged his stay in Lisbon. Then he said I will continue to Spain, and from there I don’t know for how long I will stay there or where to go next.
In November 2018, during my visit in Ljubljana, I had a conversation with two young people from France, who were telling me how they started to travel in Europe, with very little money with them, and who were creating their blog to post their experiences. They were even asking for free food in restaurants, when they could reach them before closure at night. They were mostly sleeping in couch surfers. This is the website where they are publishing their trip adventures, notes and photos https://le-backpackiste.jimdofree.
When it comes to Kosovars, I’ll just mention some cases that I personally know, when people couldn’t get visas. Their requests for visa were rejected.
A friend of mine wanted to go to her sister in Sweden, since doctors told her that she is suffering from cancer. So, what can be more important and human, than going to your sibling to support her in such a difficult moment? And that’s not the only case I know!
Another case has to do with a friend of mine who was trying so hard to make it possible for her 11-year-old brother to go in a test for football players, with a famous football team. The football team invited him, so everything was fixed, but because of visa, this didn’t happen!
Another friend of mine who owns a business wanted to attend a big fair related to his business, where he could meet potential business partners.
Do you know why he didn’t manage to go? I will not mention those who wanted to travel for tourism, because it might sound luxury regarding above mentioned cases!
An embassy requests dozens of documents for a visa application, and at the end the most likely scenario is that you get this answer:
YOUR REQUEST FOR VISA HAS BEEN REJECTED. YOU HAVEN’T GIVEN ENOUGH REASONS TO CONVINCE US THAT YOU’LL COME BACK.
Well, sometimes you can even get a 3-day, multiple entry, Schengen visa. And, no, this is not a joke!
Author: Migjen Krasniqi
Migjen has been involved in civil society since 2012, through working for different civil society organizations and being an advocate for different awareness campaigns.
As such, he has dedicated most of his work to the betterment of the relationship between the counties in the Balkan region where for the last 11 years he has organized events, that aim specifically this issue.
His work as an advocate for regional issues has started when he first started working for NGOs that had as focus Dealing with the Past and Reconciliation, to then continue with other regional projects that were organized by IPA an EU Project. In continuation, Migjen has worked for EcoFriend has the leader of the organization and for some time has also worked at the Italian Embassy in Kosovo. Currently, Migjen continues his passion for advocacy with his own organization called Innovative Center for Social Improvement – ICSI
Migjen has a Bachelor Degree in European Studies from the Institute of Political and European Studies in Prishtina, Kosovo. In addition, he has also been awarded as the Ambassador of Peace for the Western Balkans from a program which was held in Belgrade in 2017.
A passion that Migjen has is to travel, and until now he has organized a number of such travels around the world. Soon he will reach the 100thcity that he has visited.