9. February. 2018. | 12:29 | Milos Timotijevic


Freedom of movement for Serbian citizens residing in Kosovo, holders of passports issued by the Republic of Serbia, is under a great threat due to limited use or inability to use such travel documents. This situation, above all is a result of loose determination in the Brussels Accords, which allowed for wide space for different interpretation, implementation, and later rise of bureaucratic problems in implementation.

Kosovo: Special passports area, is the title of conference arranged as a need to deal with this issue and organized by NGO Aktivwithin the Empiricaadvocating platform. The report, which was presented at the conference, is an upgrade to previous activities of the Platform related to specific problems, which affect non-majority community with permanent residence in Kosovo. Panelists at this event were legal advisors in the Office of the Ombudsperson in Kosovo, Miljana Šćekić and Merita Gara, and representative of the Belgrade Center for Security Policy, researcher Bojan Elek.

NGO Aktivdirector, and moderator at the conference, Miodrag Milićević, pointed out to participants that Serbian citizens in Kosovo are entitled to receive four types of passports, which are all of limited usage value. This, above all, is related to passports issued by the Republic of Serbia, respectively ones issued before 2009 and which are under visa liberalization and those issued after 2009, issued by the Coordination Administration, and which are not part of the visa-free regime. Milićević underlined that core of the problem is non-recognition of passports of Coordination Administration, issued by the Republic of Serbia to citizens in the territory of Kosovo, by the Kosovan Institutions, and which are considered illegal, despite Kosovo Constitution and Article 3 of the Law on Citizenship clearly stating that a person resident of Kosovo holding all their documents, can also possess documents of another state. We look at this as a form of discrimination and violation of human rights since even diplomatic offices in Prishtina recognize such travel documents and dont treat them as illegal”, stressed the director of NGO Aktiv.

Miljana Šćekić from the Office of Ombudsperson in Kosovo said that people from north of Kosovo are more discriminated compared to others, as they face discrimination from both parties.  Serbia, limiting their possibilities to change place of residence for its citizens from the territory of Kosovo to towns in central Serbia for the sake of receiving a visa-free Serbian passport, as well as from the European Union, as a third party, because all in the region are awarded visa-free regime, except Kosovo. She underlined that a more intensive cooperation should exist between Office of the Ombudsperson of Kosovo and Serbia. Her colleague, Merita Gara, stressed that it is necessary for all citizens to be more informed and presented different ways to deliver complaints to the Office of the Ombudsperson for resolution of the problem with travel documents.

Bojan Elek stated that grounds provided by the European Commission for withholding visa liberalization for Serbian passports issued by the Coordination Administration are unacceptable, explaining that all countries in the world issue passports to their citizens, although they are citizens of a third country.

A fact that out of total number of respondents in January; 22% of citizens of Kosovo possess passports issued in towns in central Serbia, was also presented at the conference. This is worrying having in mind that more people change their place of residence for the benefit of visa-free passports, which consequently increases the statistics for emigration from north of Kosovo.

This also leaves large space for corruption since competent authorities are sometimes bribed for fictitious change of residence, underlined Elek.

At this conference it was concluded that such events are organized to reach decision makers which will influence in resolving the problem and obvious violation of human rights of citizens. At the end of the event it was concluded that Non-Governmental Organization Aktivshall deal with this and similar problems faced by non-majority communities in Kosovo in the future.