Serbian passports for Albanians—no problem

BELGRADE -- Issuing new Serbian passports to Kosovo Albanians is not a problem for Belgrade, nor does the European Union oppose it.

According to information from the Interior Ministry, some 1,200 Albanians from Kosovo and southern Serbia have received new biometric Serbian passports.

The government in Belgrade stated that it would continue issuing passports to all Serbian citizens who are entitled to them, while officials in Brussels have nothing again passports being issued as long as the security of EU citizens is not endangered.

The issuance of Serbian passports is not a problem for Belgrade as many believe that this demonstrates Serbia’s sovereignty over Kosovo, while Brussels does not oppose the move either.

European Commission officials say that this issue will have to be fully addressed, with a main goal of preventing these documents from falling into the hands of people with ties in crime, illegal immigration and terrorism.

“Of course the institutions have to respect and check these documents, particularly the birth certificate, and issue them a passport on that basis,“ Maja Bobić from the European Movement said.

“I think that the government must be ready to check all documents which it is giving to its citizens and it must be able to check their pasts as well, and whether there were problems with criminal activity in the past,” she said.

Borislav Pelević of the Serb Progressive Party told B92 that issuing these passports to people in Kosovo was a confirmation of Serbia’s sovereignty over the province.

“This way we show the whole world that this is a territory of Serbia and that they are not asking for Albanian, but Serbian passports. They are not asking for passports from Priština, or Tirana, but from Belgrade. Therefore, this is very clear and very good for us. Especially right before the case at the International Court of Justice in The Hague,” Pelević said.

Nebojša Ranđelović of the Liberal Democratic Party disagreed strenuously, stating that this was yet another farce linked to Kosovo.

“Serbia does not control this part of its territory. The relevant powers recognized Kosovo independence and that is unfortunately the fact of the matter. Let’s remember, in history we Serbs have also used this factual situation to gain some of our own rights when we created our country, so we can’t start harking back to historical aspects and historical rights,” he said.

Even though some 1,200 Albanians have received new passports, the Interior Ministry says that there is little interest in Serbian passports being shown by Kosovo Albanians.