Kosovo President Hashim Thaçi met with his Albanian counterpart, Ilir Meta, today to discuss visa liberalization and passports. They released a joint statement today in which Thaçi urged Meta to grant Kosovar Albanians citizenship of the Republic of Albania. Albania has had visa free travel to the EU since 2010. Kosovo is the last country in Europe without visa liberalization. Kosovars are required to obtain a visa to travel to places such as Switzerland and Germany, where there is a large amount of Kosovar diaspora. The EU is requiring Kosovo to ratify the border demarcation deal with Montenegro granting liberalization. Meta emphasized that Kosovo’s isolation needs to be ended, but granting citizenship to the Republic of Albania to Kosovar Albanians was not the solution.
Kosovar Serbs face similar issues when traveling to Europe. They qualify for Serbian passports which have enjoyed visa free travel to the EU since 2009, but there is a twist – they are issued by the Serbian Coordinate Directorate and show that the passport holder lives in Kosovo.Those with Serbian passports issued by the Serbian Coordination Directorate are still required to obtain visas to travel to the EU and is essentially as powerful as a Kosovo passport. Could Kosovar Albanians who obtain an Albanian passport soon face similar issues that their Kosovar Serb neighbors face? Will the EU require Albania to set up an authority similar to the Serbian Coordination Directorate? Time will tell. (Translated from Lajmi, photo of Newborn Sign in Pristina, Kosovo)