Kosovars celebrate European Day isolated and in poverty

Kosovars celebrate European Day isolated and in poverty

IBNA Special Report

Pristina, May 9, 2014/Independent Balkan News Agency

By Elton Tota

Republic of Kosovo is the only country in the region which has made the European Day-May 9 part of the official state holidays. Accused of corruption and organized crime, Kosovo has been neglected by the European Union for these reasons.

Kosovo also has a weak economy, with the highest unemployment and poverty rates. Meanwhile, Kosovo also “enjoys” a bad reputation in the eyes of the international community.

Alongside all this, it’s the only Balkan country which doesn’t have freedom of movement.

Nevertheless, Kosovo holds many activities on May 9, the day known as European Day. It’s an official holiday where the state celebrates with a number of activities, while the citizens continue to express their irritation about the fact that the visa regime has not yet been lifted.

Analysts and experts of integration issues say that the symbolic, celebrations and the great desire to be part of the European Union are not enough. According to them, the government of Kosovo must work in order to fulfill the requests that Brussels has imposed in order for Kosovo to become party of EU.

Professor of European law, Bardhyl Hasanpapaj says that May 9 holiday reflects the big desire of the citizens and institutions of Kosovo for EU accession.

“Over 95% of Kosovars dream of the accession of Kosovo in the EU. They think that their problems will be solved with a magic wand. The representatives of political parties in Kosovo do not see any other alternative besides Euro Atlantic integration either. But, all this desire to become part of the European family is not being testified with work”, says Hasapapaj.

He says that Kosovo, in comparison to the countries of the region, is behind in the EU integration process. According to him, this has to do with the fact that authorities are not carrying out the reforms that lead to European standards.

The expert suggests that instead of celebrations, courteous declarations and symbolic, Kosovar society must work and be engaged in achieving standards and European reforms as a model for internal development.

“Is it worth the while to celebrate? Why not? But we must first make sure that citizens are free to travel and opportunities are improving”, says Hasanpapaj.

The minister of European Integration, Vlora Citaku says that European Day will be marked by more work and less time off.

“Of course, European Day will always be marked in Kosovo, but we will celebrate it with more work and less time off. We’re ahead of the EU accession path. 7 days a week are not enough to work on the variety of things in the months and years to come, until we become full members of the EU”, says she.

For minister Citaku, May 9 must be the last time that Kosovars celebrate European Day isolated.

Samuel Zbogar, Special Representative of the European Union in Pristina believes that this year, Kosovo deserves to be off on the European Day.

“Kosovo has recently done a lot in the agenda for its European future. Therefore, we can say that all of us can take a day off and relax a little, because we have worked a lot”, says he.

Kosovo has finalized negotiations for the Stabilization and Association Agreement. This is the first contractual agreement between Kosovo and EU. Authorities also say that important steps have been taken in the path toward the liberalization of visas.

Union of Pro European Students is holding two activities which aim to express the discontent of students for the restriction of the freedom of movement for the citizens of Kosovo.

Activities for May 9

On the day which hosts activities to promote the values of the European nations, an exhibition has opened in Theranda to symbolize the European values and human values of the Albanian nation, best witnessed 70 years ago in the darkest period of modern day humanity, Holocaust.

The exhibition “The rescuing of Jews in Kosovo” continues to promote the Albanian nobility shown during the Second World War and by not stopping its journey in Kosovo.

A few days after the exhibition was shown in Malisheva, it moved to the Cultural Heritage Center in Theranda. The participants had the opportunity to understand the developments of that period when the Albanian Promise played the main role during last century.

The exhibition will stay open for three weeks in the Cultural Heritage Center in Theranda.

These days, a protest for the liberalization of the visa regime is taking place in Pristina in front of the EU office.

There will also be street football tournaments.

May 9, 1950 declaration is the date which took the first step toward creating what is known today as the European Union. The French Foreign Minister, Robert Shuman read a declaration where he called on France, Germany and other European countries to join their production of coal and steel, something which would be “the first concrete foundation for the future European Federation”.

The countries that this message was addressed to had just come out morally and materially ruined from conflicts with each other. What Shuman proposed was the creation of a European institution which prevailed over the international one and which would administrate the industry of production of coal and steel, a sector which at that time was the basis of the military power.

Years later, in the Milan Summit in 1985, EU leaders decided for May 9 to be announced and celebrated as the “European Day”. /ibna/