Visa-free travel is something all of us in Europe take for granted, all of us that is, except the people of Kosovo – a Republic that arises from and with the direct support of European nations and others. So why would you liberate a bird only to trap it? Why? Political expediency – the quality of being convenient and practical despite possibly being improper and immoral.
‘If you put elite criminals in prison, we will let your people free,’ is the brinkmanship applied by European bureaucrats. Aside from the guilty, there isn’t a citizen of Kosovo who wouldn’t like to see the criminally corrupt locked up. Europe has even given Kosovo an agency to help with the locking up – EULEX and brokered a deal to set up a special court for war-related crimes. If there are failings in implementation, then they are at the very least, of mutual institutional imperfection and not of the people.
Cue statements running: “We have made progress but…”
But the people of Kosovo have heard it all before, and their patience is frankly, of a parallel universe. It’s not just time to let the people of Kosovo travel freely, its way past time.
Of all the challenges facing Kosovo, this is a problem that can be readily resolved tomorrow.
Releasing restrictions on movement does not restrict the ability to catch crooks. The criminal and corrupt have no problems sourcing a visa, so why kettle the people?
It is counter-productive to restrict the youth of Kosovo the opportunity to breathe the air of possibility and instead offer the atmosphere of claustrophobia – an air polluted with nationalism, and at its extreme outer edges, radicalisation.
If the EU wants to encourage progressive politics in Kosovo then the doors need flinging open now, the pressure valve released, and their young people exposed to influences other than the insular.
There is also a subtler human argument. It is one that can be dismissed, but it is the most powerful.
The people of Kosovo are our friends and allies.
Is isolation any way to treat a friend?