Visas, how Kosovo is turning into a ghetto

Visas, how Kosovo is turning into a ghetto

Pristina, February 13, 2014/Independent Balkan News Agency

By Elton Tota

The 6th anniversary of the independence of Kosovo is finding its citizens isolated and unable to move freely in the European Union countries.

In the lack of a perspective and as a result of the difficult social and economic circumstances, many citizens of the country are emigrating illegally in EU countries with the hope of finding a safe refuge and be granted economic asylum.

“The lack of perspective, the difficult social and economic circumstances, unemployment and the lack of hope are forcing us to abandon the country with the hope of finding a better life in western countries”, says E. Gashi speaking for IBNA.

Kosovo’s politicians make futile promises and the situation has not moved improved. Meanwhile, experts of European issues say that the visa free regime for the Schengen countries requires the fulfillment of the criteria outlined in the visa guideline.

According to them, the issue of the liberalization of visas, the start and finalization of the accession process, will directly depend on the fulfillment of the principles, priorities and conditions needed for Kosovo to achieve partnership with the EU.

“What’s important in this aspect is the efficiency in the management of borders, fight against organized crime, illegal trafficking, biometric passports, civil registry and the endorsement of several important documents with the EU. Kosovo must continue to ratify the agreement of repatriation with all EU member countries. With the endorsement of bilateral repatriation agreements, without added formalities, states can repatriate all foreign nationals to their countries in case their visas have expired or in case they have been staying in these EU countries illegally for a long period of time”, says Arsim Avdija, expert of European law and professor at the University of Pristina, speaking for balkaneu.com.

According to him, the majority of citizens will not rejoice over with the liberalization of visas, because they only see it as a way to abandon the country for a better life in the western countries.

“It’s the government and not the EU that must resolve the problems of these people. The government must not only do more to open new jobs and increase living standards, but it must also raise the awareness of the citizens about the fact that integration and free movement doesn’t mean abandoning the country, but an improvement in the living standards in the country. Recently, EU member countries have been going through a critical phase, relating especially to the creation of new jobs and increase of living standards”, says Mr. Avdija.

Rexhepi: Illegal emigration remains a challenge for Kosovo

Minister of Interior, Bajram Rexhepi says that illegal emigration of Kosovar citizens remains a challenge not only for Kosovo, but for all Balkan countries.

We have taken many steps in order to prevent and fight criminal groups who smuggle emigrants and we have worked with EU member countries to discourage illegal emigration”, said Bajrami. He said that in the past 3 years, the government of Kosovo has held many campaigns to inform the citizens of Kosovo about the negative effects of illegal emigration. Rexhepi says that the ministry that he leads is working to fulfill the criteria of the guideline on visas.

Çitaku: Liberalization of visas is going well

Minister of European Integration, Vlora Çitaku says that the process of the liberalization of visas for Kosovo has not come to a standstill. On the contrary, she says that this process is moving forward according to plans.

“The process of the liberalization of visas is moving forward according to plans and assessment missions will be the ones to assess the progress that has been made”, declared Çitaku.

In this context, the minister says that she’s astonished by the declaration of Ulrike Lunacek MEP that there will not be a liberalization of visas for Kosovo for another 2 to 3 years.

Strategies approved by Kosovo

The law on integrated management of state borders has been approved as part of the Ahtisaari’s Package since May 2008. Meanwhile, the Strategy and Action Plan for the Integrated Management of Borders has been approved in April of 2009. A lot of work has also been done in passing the Bill on the Protection of Data and Bill on Asylum, which foresees the construction of new centers for asylum seekers. In June 2009, the government has also approved the National Strategy and Action Plan against Drugs and National Strategy and Action Plan against Organized Crime, etc. Several other documents have been approved, but Kosovo must also implement these laws.

The current visa regime with the EU countries has a negative effect on the development of the market, business, education and doesn’t allow Kosovo to have a more open civil society. The visa regime imposed by the EU isolates Kosovo and mines the efforts of the Balkan countries for reforms and stability. /ibna/