- 4 March 2015
Policy Program | Expert Discussion On: "Kosovo’s population drain: How can the governments of Kosovo and Germany respond to people’s demands for a better future?“
On March 4, 2015 the Aspen Institute Germany hosted an Expert Discussion on the topic “Kosovo’s population drain: How can the governments of Kosovo and Germany respond to people’s demand for a better future?” The guest speakers were H.E. Skender Hyseni, Minister of Internal Affairs of the Republic of Kosovo, Dr. Ernst Reichel, Special Envoy for South-Eastern Europe, Turkey, and the EFTA States in the Federal Foreign Office, and Dr. Michael Jansen, Head of Division M I 5 European Migration, European Harmonization in the Federal Ministry of the Interior. The discussion was moderated by Dr. Andrea Despot, Deputy Director of European Academy Berlin.
The improvement of the social and economic situation of the people in Kosovo, including economic development, the fight against corruption, as well as EU and NATO membership were identified as the key priorities of the government. Furthermore, the speakers discussed the advantages and disadvantages of the Schengen visa liberalization. One speaker stressed the importance of the Schengen visa liberalization for the people in Kosovo because the agreement would allow for migration control. Critical voices by contrast declared that the visa liberalization might not solve the problem of increasing numbers of asylum seekers from Kosovo as the opposite was the case for its neighboring states. Last year, a quarter of an overall number of 200.000 asylum seekers in Germany came from the Western Balkans, one participant mentioned. In this context, the warning was issued that the increasing numbers of economic refugees might lead to the questioning of the principle of freedom of movement within Europe in public opinion. However, both proponents and critics identified the visa liberalization process as a whole as a strong motor for Kosovo’s reform process to align with European standards.
In addition, participants stressed the importance of informing people in Kosovo that rumors according to which people upon arrival in Germany are offered jobs and housing are not true, as it might prevent them from giving up their livelihood in Kosovo in hope for a better perspective elsewhere. Everyone agreed that it was necessary to improve people’s situation within Kosovo to give them a long-term perspective within their own country. In this regard, Germany’s readiness to support Kosovo’s government was mentioned.