Slovakia denies entry to Kosovo passport holders
Slovakia will be the only EU country to deny holders of the new Kosovo passports entering their country, EurActiv Slovakia reports. The former Serbian province has begun issuing the new documents on Wednesday (30 July) and called on all countries, including those opposing its independence, to accept them.
Slovakia belongs to a group of seven EU members that have not recognised Kosovo yet, but none of the others - Spain, Malta, Cyprus, Portugal, Greece and Romania - has thus far indicated that it would reject travelers with passports from the new state.
The country’s Foreign Affairs and Interior ministries said they will refuse any official documents coming from Pristina, including the new passports, although they comply with international standards and are equipped with electronically readable data.
Slovakia’s Foreign Ministry has already made clear that owners of a Kosovo passport, even if they were granted a Schengen visa, would not be allowed to enter the country. It was not yet clear how the EU intends to deal with the situation.
According to a foreign ministry spokesman, Bratislava will, however, continue to accept Serbian passports as well as the substitute passports issued by UNMIK, the interim UN administration in Pristina. Montenegro and Macedonia have taken the same position.
UNMIK has provided Kosovo citizens with travel documents since 2001, but mission officials said they will not issue new documents any more. This decision comes at a time when many Kosovo-Albanians, who live and work abroad, are in Kosovo on holiday – a visit they traditionally use to renew their travel documents, writes Balkan Insight, an independent news website.
For the Serbian minority living in Kosovo, Slovakia’s decision does not change much, as Kosovo’s new constitution allows them to hold double citizenship, so they can easily travel with the documents issued by Belgrade.
Bratislava shares Belgrade’s view that Pristina’s unilateral declaration of independence was not in line with international law and that the break-away province still belongs to Serbia. There are no indications that Slovakia would change its stance soon, despite an earlier pledge to review the situation according to the latest developments.
Ties between Slovakia and Serbia are generally very close. Apart from the small, 50,000-strong Slovak minority living in the Serbian Vojvodina region, Belgrade is the biggest beneficiary of the Slovak Official Development Assistance (ODA).