Greater Surbiton

The perfect is the enemy of the good

European Commission divides South East Europe


The following petition was published on the website on 14 July:

We note with great concern the current policy for South Eastern Europe of the European Commission. The visa policy for the successor states of the former Yugoslavia risks to create two classes of citizens in South Eastern Europe, based on ethnicity.

We welcome, that visa-free travel should be granted to citizens of Montenegro, Macedonia and Serbia as of 1 January 2010. Equal rights will, for example, be refused to Bosnia and Herzegovina. The European Commission ignores that Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia are almost at the same level with regard to the introduction of bio-metric passports and a variety of legislative acts agreed on the visa liberalisation road map. The arguments which serve to justify the Commission recommendation are factually unconvincing and politically irresponsible.

The draft recommendation on visa liberalisation will increase tensions within the fragile post-war societies as the plans of the Commission will formalise ethnic divisions and provide them with dubious legitimacy. Only a part of the citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina will profit from the new travel regime. Bosnian Serbs and Serbs from Kosovo travel visa free in the EU thanks to their second passport issued by the Republic of Serbia as of 1 January 2010. Bosnian Croats have already enjoyed visa-free travel to the EU for a couple of years thanks to their Croatian passports. Restrictions thus remain in place for the Bosniak people of Bosnia and Herzegovina. De facto, ethnic criteria will decide on whether a citizen is able to travel freely to the EU.

This summer, 14 years ago, more than 8,000 Muslim boys and men were killed around Srebrenica. It is evidence of the EU’s poor political judgement that Bosniak survivors and relatives of the killed will be disadvantaged in comparison to the hundreds of suspected perpetrators who committed crimes in Srebrenica and who continue to evade justice.

German post-war history reminds us how important the freedom to travel has been for the peaceful development of a society. With the change of the travel laws in the GDR on 9 November 1989 the wall came down. The East and the West of Europe were able reunite. People in South Eastern Europe have the same right to freedom of travel. A region still haunted by nationalism needs freedom of exchange of ideas and opinions and also the right to travel. It is not freedom that creates instability, but the suppression of freedom.

The guiding vision of the visa liberalisation policy of the European Union is to bring South Eastern Europe closer to the EU and to promote European reconciliation and cooperation. In the next weeks, the European Commission, the European Council and the European Parliament have the choice between a visa policy that is uniting Europe or one that separates people on the basis of their ethnicity.

Sign online !


Christian Schwarz-Schilling, Former High Representative to Bosnia and Hercegovina, Büdingen, Germany
Wolfgang Petritsch, Ambassador/Former High Representative to Bosnia and Hercegovina, Paris, France
Hans Koschnick, EU-Beauftragter fuer Mostar a.D., Bremen, Germany
Marieluise Beck, MdB, Berlin, Bündis90/Die Grünen, Germany
Franziska Brantner, MEP, (Greens/EFA), Brussels
Doris Pack, MEP, (EPP), Brussels
Tilman Zülch, Gesellschaft für bedrohte Völker, Göttingen, Germany
Bärbel Bohley, Berlin, Germany
Rebecca Harms, MEP, (Chair Greens/EFA), Brussels
Dany Cohn-Bendit, MEP, (Chair Greens/EFA), Brussels
Prof. Sabrina P. Ramet, The Norwegian University of Science & Technology, Trondheim, Norway
Reinhard Bütikofer, MEP (Bureau Greens/EFA), Brussels
Rüdiger Ratsch-Heitmann, Schüler Helfen Leben, Berlin/ Pristina/Sarajevo
Nenad Popovic, Publisher, Zagreb, Croatia
Bernd Posselt, MEP (CSU), Chairman Paneuropa-Union, Brussels
Natasa Kandic, Humanitarian Law Center, Belgrade, Serbia
Veton Surroi, Publisher, Pristina, Kosovo
Bujar Bukoshi, Prime Minister a.D. (1991-1999), MP, Kosovo
Milka Tadic Mijovic, Weekly Monitor, Podgorica, Montenegro
Sasa Stanisic, Writer, Berlin, Germany
Hans Christian Schmid, Film Director, Berlin, Germany
Ulrike Lunacek, MEP, (Greens/EFA), Brussels
Hermann Hardt, Flüchtlingsrat Hamburg e.V.
Heide Rühle, MEP, (Greens/EFA), Brussels
Sven Giegold, MEP, (Greens/EFA), Brussels
Peter Matjasic, Secretary General, Young European Federalists, Brussels
Bart Staes, MEP, (Greens/EFA), Brussels
Helene Flautre, MEP (Greens/EFA), Brussels
Michael Cramer, MEP (Greens/EFA), Brussels
Werner Schulz, MEP, (Greens/EFA), Brussels
Raul i Romeva, MEP, (Greens/EFA), Brussels
Dr. Damir Arsenijevic, Tuzla University, Bosnia and Herzegovina
Agron Bajrami, Editor in chief, Koha Ditore Newspaper, Prishtina, Kosovo
Ulrike Baur,
Journalist and Filmmaker, Heidelberg, Deutschland
Prof. Dr. Johan Behrens, Universität Halle/Saale, Germany
Dr. Carl Bethke, Universität Leipzig, Germany
Amira Bieber, Forschungsgruppe Bosnien, Frankfurt am Main, Germany
Dr. Benjamin Bieber, Forschungsgruppe Bosnien, Frankfurt, Germany
Tobias Bütow, Schwarzkopf-Stiftung Junges Europa, Berlin, Germany
Prof. Dr. Ulf Brunnbauer, South-East-Institute, Director, Leipzig, Germany
Jasna Causevic, Gesellschaft für bedrohte Völker e.V., Göttingen, Germany
Tobias Heider, Freie Universität Berlin, Germany
PD Dr. Andreas Heinemann-Grüder, Bonn International Centre for Conversion, Germany
Majda Idrizbegovic, European University Institute, Florence, Italy
Dr. Mislav Jezic, Vice-President, Paneuropa-Union, Zagreb, Croatia
PD Dr. Ernst Köhler, Universität Konstanz, Germany
Angela König, EIRENE International, Director, Bonn, Germany
Armina Omerika, Universität Erfurt, Germany
Prof. Dr. Henning Ottmann, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München, Germany
Marc-Oliver Pahl, Union of European Federalists, Düsseldorf, Germany
Dr. Kim Christian Priemel, Europa-Universität Viadrina, Frankfurt (Oder), Germany
Erich Rathfelder, Journalist, die tageszeitung
Oliver Rolofs, Hauptmann d.R., Germany
Damir Saracevic, ZZI, Linz, Austria
Beate Seel, taz, Ressortleitung Ausland, Berlin, Germany
Antje Heider-Rottwilm, Dr. Martin Heider, Brücke-HafenCity, Hamburg Germany
Michael Schmitt, European Parliament, Brussels
Aida Vehabovic, Schüler Helfen Leben, Sarajevo, Bosnia and Hercegovina
Walter Veirs, Regional Director, Charles Steward Mott Foundation, Great Britain
Reinhard Weißhuhn, Referent für Außenpolitik, Bündnis 90/ Die Grünen, Berlin, Germany
Prof. Dr. Michael Wildt, Humboldt Universitaet, Berlin, Germany

Saturday, 29 August 2009 - Posted by | Balkans, European Union

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