Friday, December 4, 2009

Serbia Snubs Albanians Seeking Visa-Free Travel

Bujanovac | 04 December 2009 | By Jeton Ismaili
Serbia's biometric passports
Serbia's biometric passports
EU decision to lift visa restrictions on Serbian citizens is prompting Kosovo Albanians to claim they live in South Serbia, so they can access the benefits – but very few succeed.

Leon Osmani, aged 30, was born in South Serbia but has been living with his family in the Kosovo capital of Pristina for the last 25 years.

Ever since he heard the news that Brussels proposed to lift the requirement for Serbian citizens to obtain visas for the Schengen zone, he has been trying to change address.

He filed a request with the police in Serbia to change his official residence to his grandfather’s home in the mainly Albanian town of Bujanovac in Southern Serbia.

“They accepted my documentation as valid but my request was denied, oddly enough,” Osmani complains. The official explanation was that the data submitted in his request was incorrect.

Osmani is not the only Albanian in Kosovo trying to claim residence in Serbia as a result of the EU decision.
The reason is that the EU decision on November 30 to lift the Schengen visa regime on certain countries in the Western Balkans is highly selective.

It applies to Serbia, Macedonia and Montenegro but not to Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo or Albania. Kosovo unilaterally proclaimed independence from Serbia in 2008. Its independence has been recognised by 22 EU states and 63 countries worldwide, but is contested by Serbia.

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