Open Letter

All European – all equal!

, by Fehmi Hajra

All European – all equal!

Instead of New Year greetings, an Open Letter to Jose Manuel Barroso, President of the EU Commission, Franco Fratini, Vice President of the EU Commission and EU commissioner on Justice, Freedom and Security, Olli Rehn, EU commissioner on Enlargement, Joachim Rucker, Head of UNMIK, Fatmir Sejdiu, President of Kosovo, Kolë Berisha, President the Kosovo Assembly, Agim Ceku, Prime minister of Kosovo, Giorgio Mamberto, Head of the EC liaison office in Kosovo and Torbjorn Sohlstrom, Special envoy of the EU Foreign Policy High Representative, Javier Solana.

The Young European Federalists Kosova (JEF Kosova), Kosova Alliance for Business (AKB) and ‘European Citizens’ (EC) are deeply concerned about the decision of the leaders of the European Union for having excluded Kosovo from the negotiations on Facilitating Schengen Visas for Western Balkan states, which started this year and are due to be concluded in 2007.

These organizations consider that the background reasons for excluding Kosovo in these negotiations is Kosovo’s unresolved official status. However, this is not justifiable as Kosovo has its own institutions and UNMIK, and also within UNMIK one of the pillars is governed by the European Union.

Furthermore, JEF, AKB and EC deeply regret the silence of the Kosovo government in relation to this exclusion. The abovementioned organizations consider that this decision discriminates citizens of Kosovo, especially youth and businessmen as categories that have necessities to travel for study and business tours in the countries that are part of the ‘Schengen Zone’.

JEF, AKB and EC consider that with this decision Kosovo is ghettoized further because of the visa regime and this is shouting our hopes for an integrated Kosovo in a unified continent.

Visas that are applied by the countries of the European Union (Schengen Visa) are stopping freedom of movement in Europe; they are causing difficulties to the European citizens that are out of the Schengen Zone, inciting lots of time and patience. Moreover, this year European leaders have decided to double the prices for visa application from 30 euros to 60. This is unacceptable for our organizations that stand for the rights of business and young people.

Our Requests

We request from the European leaders to review this decision and include Kosovo in the agreement for facilitation of Schengen visas. We believe that in this way we will be freed from pressing feelings for being isolated from the rest of Europe and world.

With this decision we consider that a new ‘Berlin wall’ has been established, where Kosovars and especially young and business people are being mostly affected. We want for Kosovo to be part of this agreement that would deepen the freedom of movement and integration. We want for these walls to be demolished just like the Berlin wall was demolished. We want to let the European citizens and decision-makers know that the visa regime has differentiated Europeans into those who can travel freely and those who cannot. Thus again, Europe has been divided into two parts – in the Schengen Zone and the non-Schengen Zone.

Kosovo citizens being out of the borders that were established by “Schengen” for years now are facing difficulties that are in turn differentiating them from the rest of Europeans. Kosovo citizens want to integrate into Europe. Kosovo youth wants to have the possibility to meet and learn from fellow young Europeans. Kosovo businessmen want to increase the cooperation with businessmen from all of Europe. They have only one difficulty: VISAS.

JEF, AKB and EC request from the European Union leaders, EU Commissioners Fratini and Rehn, EU representatives in Kosovo, UNMIK and Kosovo institutions to do the outmost for Kosovo to become part of this agreement, at least for study and business oriented necessities. We hope for this request to incite the thinking of the European leaders that the European Union is identified with a fundamental human rights principle – FREEDOM OF MOVEMENT.

If this principle is to be respected we believe that this way we will stop illegal immigration, we will increase European feeling in Kosovo and evaporation of pressing feelings of isolation.

The letter was signed by:

Fehmi Hajra, President of JEF-Kosova

Agim Shahini, President of the Alliance of Kosovar Businesses

Delfin Pllana, Executive Director of European Citizens

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