The German embassy in Belgrade is only one of the diplomatic missions in the Serbian capital with visa applicants queuing up outside. But this line-up is almost permanent. Serbs need visas to travel to the Schengen countries.
Schengen groups almost all the EU states, plus non-EU Iceland, Norway and Switzerland. Tamara goes through this every time she goes to visit to her boyfriend.
Tamara STOJONOVIC, in English:
“You have to apply with a huge amount of papers and also because the EU doesn't recognize Serbian health insurance, then you have to have an additional health insurance that it costs if you go for one month around 50 euro additional and again you have to pay for the visa which is 35 euro.”
Language challenges make the process that much harder.
Miroljub DJUKIC, in Serbian:
“My daughter has sent me a written invitation for my granddaughter's birthday party."
The European Commission has proposed that the Serbs, Montenegrins and Macedonians be allowed to travel without a visa for the EU from this coming January.
Maja and Tamara, sisters, age 25 and 28, of a new Serbian generation, grasp any chance to travel and to study abroad. One has a political science degree and the other's an economist. They have an aunt who is Italian, the sort of thing that can help with a visa; you need an invitation letter from someone in an EU member state when you apply.
Maja TRGOVČEVIĆ, Student, in English:
“I am lucky because I have always somebody there who can send me a letter of invitation. There are people who do not have that.”
Tamara came back to Belgrade after eight years' studying and working in Italy and Belgium.
Tamara TRGOVČEVIĆ, Economist, in English:
“After a year in Brussels, my visa expired and I came back to Belgrade.”
Tamara now has a job here. Maja is taking a masters' environmental degree.
Few of Belgrade University's students are free to travel in the EU unconditionally. Most are enrolled in International Relations.
Ivan VEJVODA, Student, in English:
“It segregates the country and especially the youth from the rest of Europe. In a way that they don't know what is outside of Serbia and so, they automatically become more xenophobic since they cannot meet people from abroad.”
Marija NIKIC, Student, in English:
“It really takes a lot of patience and time and sometimes you just give up your trip or something and don't go.”
Nikola VESELINOVIC, Student, in English:
“I was the only guy in the airplane I was checked probably because I was from Serbia. I don't know.”
Maja TRGOVČEVIĆ, Student, in English:
"Hi, I have my visa. I have got it for six months. Do you want to see?"
The hurdles aren't reserved for students: Marko travels for the family business, Amphora, supplier of office and school supplies. Since his parents don't speak English well, he's often the one to attend meetings abroad. He's got a visa for three years at the moment, but before he got that, crossing certain borders was often touch and go, such as once when entering Romania.
Marko MARKOVIC, Sales Manager, “AMPHORA”, in English:
“Should I take this custom guy or this custom guy? Which one is gonna let me go through? I take this one and he tells me: You have Schengen, you can pass, the another guy told me: No he is a Serbian citizen, he cannot enter and they argued for half and hour whether I can or I cannot enter in the country.”
The non-governmental organisation Grupa 484 has worked hard trying to make it easier for Balkan countries' citizens to travel. This member couldn't get to a job conference in Italy in 2003.
Danilo RAKIC, Policy Officer, GRUPA 484, in English:
“I was rejected without any explanation. In this way I was told that I wasn't welcome to enter in the EU. It was a huge humiliation.”
Serbs in creative work don't have it easy travelling around the EU, either. Popular young writer Marko has just presented his latest novel at t...
A new Rollup Banner Stand from Belgrad Serbia from Warhol Inzerring
Video o Brankovina.
The village of Brankovina in Serbia (east-europe)
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Take a tour of Saint Sava Temple in Belgrade, Serbia and Montenegro – part of the World’s Greatest Attractions travel video series by GeoBeats.
On the glorious Serbian land of Belgrade, an exalted monument stands as a witness to the religion and history of this country.
The beauty of Saint Sava Temple is particularly defined by the impeccable white marble and lustrous golden crosses.
At a stately height of nearly 82 meters, it has been especially noted for the lovely mosaics which grace the interiors and 18 gold-plated crosses adorning its domes.
It was built to venerate Saint Lava, who played an exigent role in building Serbian history, and who is credited for being the founding patron of the Serbian Orthodox Church.
The silhouette of this colossal and admirable structure looms high over Belgrade's skyline.
At night, when the sun sets and the city lights are lit, this alluring church radiates with serenity in a seraphic white glow.
Take a tour of Kalemegdan Clock Tower in Belgrade, Serbia and Montenegro – part of the World’s Greatest Attractions travel video series by GeoBeats.
The Kalemegdan clock tower in Belgrade, Serbia invites visitors to enter the city's fortress of the same name.
The tower stands over the Stambol Gate, a magnificent stone archway that allows passage through the fortress walls.
Built in the 17th century, the clock tower has watched over Belgrade for over three hundred years.
When the entire population of Belgrade used to inhabit the fortress, the clock tower was a key landmark of the city.
The clock tower is also a part of the magnificent park contained within the Kalemegdan fortress.
Within the fortress, visitors can visit Kalemegdan's fountains and purchase Belgradian souvenirs.
BY TRACY PFEIFFER
Anchor: Megan Murphy
You're watching multisource world news analysis from Newsy
A historic turn in the Balkans -- officials from Serbia and Kosovo met for face-to-face talks for the first time since the Kosovo declared its independence from the United Nations in 2008.
“The EU is mediating the negotiations as relations between the two countries remain tense, with Serbia denying Kosovo sovereignty. For that reason, the focus will be more on day-to-day issues like trade and air traffic.” (RT)
Analysts argue, these seemingly innocuous issues are direct results of Serbia’s refusal to recognize Kosovo’s independence -- and are causing problems on the ground.
The Irish Times points out -- Serbia does not allow vehicles registered in Kosovo.
Al Jazeera reports, the contested nation cannot get its own telephone country code.
And the Financial Times says, Serbia refuses to accept Kosovar customs stamps -- meaning Kosovar manufacturers cannot ship goods through Serbia.
The Balkans has a long history of ethnic strife. The eventual disintegration of Yugoslavia in the 1990s fueled the tension, resulting in a deadly conflict between Serbia and Kosovo over the question of Kosovar sovereignty. NATO military forces intervened in the late ‘90s, and Kosovo was put under control of the UN until it declared independence in 2008. (Video: euronews)
But despite the historical bad blood, representatives from both Balkan states had nothing but optimism for the media prior to the negotiations.
BORKO STEFANOVIC, SERBIAN HEAD NEGOTIATOR: “There will be tough issues and easier ones, but of course we have high hopes and we expect that this dialogue will give fast and rapid implementations of solutions that we will find together in this process.”
EDITA TAHIRI, KOSOVO DEPUTY PM: “We are coming with positive spirit and with constructive approach. There is a lot of things on the agenda in terms of practical issues.” (CCTV)
So why come to the table now? A writer for the UK’s The Independent says, Serbia is eyeing European Union membership -- something it can only get by mending ties with Kosovo. But the writer also notes, the latter has reasons to cooperate as well.
“Unlike Serbia, it is in no position to dream of EU membership. But it is dependent on EU subsidies and with its right to statehood contested around the world, Kosovo needs to maintain the diplomatic goodwill of both Europe and the US, whose military was decisive in securing its independence.”
But an article from European Voice argues, it’s not the Balkan states under pressure here -- it’s the EU itself. The writer says, the international body needs to get serious about the talks, rather than sidestepping the big issue.
“...any dialogue focused solely on technical issues and with no clear perspective on the north's political future will do little more than affirm and legitimate the Serbia-run parallel structures in the north. Given Pristina's adamant opposition to Belgrade's control of the north, the prospects of a frozen conflict would then only increase.”
Currently, Kosovo is considered partially-recognized, with some 75 UN countries recognizing its independence.
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