This paper deals with one of the most difficult issues on the European agenda of the Western Balkans - that of relations between Kosovo and Serbia. The main objective of the research was to provide comparable information from Kosovo and Serbia.
SHATTERING THE ILLUSION OF FREE TRADE BETWEEN
KOSOVO AND SERBIA
Another indicator of close trade relations between these two customs areas is that the share. According to the data, this problem seems to be more widespread on the Serbian side of customs. The differences between the analyzed data stem from the fact that while UNMIK Customs has a centralized data collection system that shows every border crossing, the Serbian data collected after 1999 on trade between Serbia and Kosovo is only for tax payment purposes of the Tax Administration of Serbia.
This has clear implications for the ability of the governments in Kosovo and Serbia to generate revenue from the trade flows described in the table below. This trend can be partly explained by the fact that the majority of the population in the region consists of the Serb community, which indicates that local Serbs trade with Serbia.10. The volume of trade with Kosovo that passes through the gray channels is between 30 and 40 percent, according to the perception of the transporters.
AND SOME OF THE CONSEQUENCES…
The porous borders of the last decade are becoming more regulated every year, but unregulated trade remains a significant part of the current trade activities between Serbia and Kosovo. It becomes a self-perpetuating cycle where the current policy encourages and contributes to the gray economy in both Kosovo and Serbia. Yet the lack of real understanding of the interactions and levels of the gray economy prevents governments from providing incentives to legalize these companies, which bodes ill for longer-term economic development perspectives.
Finally, the current trade situation provides not only an incentive for the legitimization of business, but also an incentive for the further criminalization of business, including the use of the region as a convenient smuggling corridor for illegal goods. The much-discussed Balkan gateway to Europe remains a very real concern, and the current trade regime only encourages unscrupulous players to see the region as a transit area for illegal goods to the EU. At the same time, the geographical position of Serbia and Kosovo remains attractive for illegal goods as long as the trade regimes and border crossings promote unregulated trade.
And while the current system does provide some tax revenue to benefit both governments, the differences in border data suggest that a good portion is missing. Both Serbia and Kosovo have it in their best interest to more accurately track and control the flow of goods between Kosovo and Serbia for the practical matter of revenue collection. While the trade flows are clearly uneven, accurate allocation of taxes to the relevant authorities will contribute to the improvement of the tax collection regimes of Serbia and Kosovo and allow the public coffers to attribute these funds to challenged budgets.
Not only do these types of informal transfers clearly represent lost revenues for the tax authorities in Serbia and the authorities in Kosovo, they also distort actual trade, current and potential, for economic development. It is unlikely that government officials in Kosovo and Serbia have more detailed information than made available for this report. Although far from complete, the trend data on Kosovo and Serbia as transit areas for legal trade to the EU indicate that there is a real potential for the region to become an important transit corridor outside the current transit area for mainly Greek and Turkish migrants. goods.
Harmonization and eventual adoption of the acquis communautaire of the EU is the goal for both Serbia and Kosovo. This is not in the spirit of the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) signed between all SEE states under the auspices of the South East European Stability Pact. Consequently, improving trade ties between Serbia and Kosovo will help in solving the political problems between these entities.
Any future agreements in the trade regime between Serbia and Kosovo must be in line with the implementation of free trade agreements between SEE countries and the establishment of a multilateral free trade area in South-Eastern Europe (as agreed in Sofia at the end of 2004). 13. 13Kosovo as a separate customs territory without political sovereignty complicates matters of its inclusion in the free trade area created in Southeastern Europe under the auspices of the Stability Pact for Southeastern Europe (Stability Pact). The stability pact defined Kosovo in the preamble of the free trade agreement as part of Serbia and Montenegro under international administration, but later in the text of the agreement Kosovo was treated as all other parties.
OF A GHETTO WITHIN A BALKAN GHETTO
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And for Kosovo, respondents cited the lack of a visa as one in more than 40 percent of cases. 23The majority of the population is aware of the visa regulations for neighboring countries and EU countries. Most people knew that a visa is required for all EU countries (69 percent of respondents from Serbia and 78 percent of respondents from Kosovo, 81 percent and 89 percent of students in Serbia and Kosovo respectively, 84 percent and 92 percent of experts, 90 percent and 94 percent of business people respectively).
Students, experts and business people often saw themselves as the biggest losers from the current visa regime with neighboring countries, with an emphasis on EU countries. Most residents of Serbia and Kosovo have not recently traveled to any of the countries in the region. And people who had the chance to travel more were found to be more optimistic about the future of the country.
CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS
Consequently, we urge countries in the region (especially EU member countries-Hungary, Greece, etc.) to support the people of Serbia and Montenegro and Kosovo in their efforts to lobby for visa liberalization of the EU. Providing a clear mechanism for the status talks to focus on visa harmonization for Kosovo and Serbia as part of an early confidence-building part of the status talks. The prospects of free movement of people (even of some key target groups) in the region and with the EU would be very important in improving border control and reducing illegal flows of goods and people.
Since the status talks are likely to be part of a long-term process, it is especially important that Serbia and Kosovo take ownership of their respective parts of the current impasse in the movement of goods and people. The political will to change the inconsistencies of the current trade and visa regime by the governments of Kosovo and Serbia is crucial. The EU and the International Community also remain critical players in increasing the liberalization of the region.
The walls of the Balkans are legendary, be it the stone walls of Kosovo or the fence of Vojvodina. The lack of free trade limits trade and economic opportunities for the region, providing few incentives for the legal transfer of goods, responsible customs and border regimes, or the basis for the growth of much-needed businesses in the region. At the same time, the inability of the people of Serbia and Kosovo to travel within Kosovo and Serbia, across the region and into the European Union reinforces the ghetto mentality that fuels national extremism and populism, thus offering more incentives for regional discord. relationships as constructive connections in common interest.
The start of status talks in Kosovo is a historic opportunity to build highways that connect rather than walls that divide. It is likely that the status talks will consist of phases that do not represent outcomes of one preference or the other, indicating that a continuation of the status quo on the visa and trade regimes will contribute to undermining progress of the status discussions. claim to promote. Using status talks to go beyond the status quo is critical to breaking down the ghetto within the ghetto in the Balkans.
According to the letter of the Constitutional Framework1, the issue of the movement of persons belongs to the domain of the reserved powers of the international administration (United Nations). In addition, in light of the division of responsibilities between the civilian and security sectors of the international administration, it is the Special Representative of the Secretary-General who, in consultation with the KFOR Commander and the UNMIK Police Commissioner, determines authorized borders and border crossings. 2001/10,2 the dividing line between Kosovo and Serbia is defined as a border, and crossing it outside the border crossings is sanctioned as a criminal act.
In addition, this Regulation enumerates another category of persons with no practical differences in terms of the effects of their entry and the right of indefinite stay in Kosovo with those already mentioned - all those who are in possession of a travel document or an identity card from the State of the Union Serbia and Montenegro are practically entitled to the same rights as the remaining inhabitants of Kosovo. Law on Citizenship, Law on Travel Documents for Yugoslav Citizens, Law on Movement and Residence of Foreigners, SCG Law on Asylum and Regulation on Control of Crossing the Administrative Line. Law on Citizenship of the Republic of Serbia ("SRJ's Official Gazette" No. SCG's Official Gazette" No. 12/2005) defines that citizens of the Republic of Serbia, regardless of their ethnicity, acquire citizenship of the Republic of Serbia by origin, birth on the territory of the Republic of Serbia , acceptance and according to international treaties.
Considering the fact that the current Law on Citizenship does not define circumstances that exist in the territory of Kosovo, it can be considered that according to the legal system the citizens of Kosovo are citizens and nationals at the same time. of the Republic of Serbia unless the reasons for the cessation of citizenship have occurred. Practically, this means that as citizens of the Republic of Serbia, they have the right to freedom of movement and all other rights guaranteed by the Law and the Constitution. Yugoslav citizens (term used by law which in fact implies citizens of the State Union of Serbia and Montenegro) can have only one travel document of the same type.
The individual who crosses or stands on the administrative line is obliged to act according to the order of the authority (Ministry of the Interior of the Republic of Serbia) and the Joint Security Forces. Crossing the administrative line between Serbia and Kosovo is possible in nine locations controlled by the Ministry of the Interior of the Republic of Serbia. With the Decision of the Council of Ministers of the CEC, visas for entry and stay in the Central African Republic for a period of 90 days are waived for all travelers.