Kosovo restaurant asks EU citizens for visas, in diplomatic “retaliation”

Kosovo restaurant asks EU citizens for visas, in diplomatic "retaliation"

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Pristine (AFP) – Shpejtim Pefqeli, the owner of the restaurant ‘Mama’s’, in Kosovo, demands that citizens of the European Union (EU) who enter his restaurant in Pristina, the capital, show him a “visa”, out of spite for the visa obligation that the EU imposes on Kosovars.

“Entry prohibited to European citizens without a visa”, reads a sign at the entrance of the restaurant ‘Mama’s’.

The 1.8 million Kosovars are the only citizens of the Balkan countries who still need to obtain a document to enter the Schengen area, made up of 26 European countries, of which 22 belong to the EU.

In 2018, the European Commission gave a favorable opinion to the exemption of free movement visas in the EU for Kosovars.

The European Parliament voted in favour, but the last word rests with the Council of the EU, which represents the governments of the member states.

During the last summit between the EU and the Western Balkans, Kosovo expected a change in this situation.

But the measure was not adopted and Shpejtim Pefqeli, the owner of the restaurant, decided to prohibit entry to his establishment to Europeans without a visa.

“It’s a sign of revolt and desperation,” he says.

Eulex, the European mission responsible for the rule of law in Kosovo, has its premises just opposite the restaurant and many of the Europeans who work there used to frequent the restaurant.

“I don’t depend on them,” adds Pefqeli.

few doors

Kosovo declared its independence in 2008 and has since been recognized by more than 100 countries. However, there are still dozens of states that do not recognize it, including five from the European Union, such as Spain.

The Kosovar passport still opens few doors if it is not accompanied by a visa. Kosovars are forced to wait weeks, if not months, as they fill out mountains of paperwork to get the necessary documents to travel abroad.

“We got angry. We saw that in a certain way, they humiliated us,” Pefqeli told the AFP agency. After the summit, he felt compelled to “protest”.

“There were two Bulgarian women in the restaurant. They laughed when I told them not to hurry and to finish their food and drink before leaving,” recalls Pefqeli.

“Everyone should do something creative, because this highlights the problem and the injustice,” he adds.

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Written by Editor TLN

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