#11 EU Youth Event in Ljubljana

Dance for your visa!

by Thomas Alboth

The rules for obtaining a Schengen visa for people from non EU countries are sometimes a little bit strange…

Is it worth to discuss “Improving the mobility of young people with fewer opportunities” in Europe? For Mladen Vukcevic, a workshop participant from Montenegro “people with fewer opportunities” were disabled people on a wheelchair or blind people. They have problems with using public transport, reading the flight timetables or signs on in the airport. Mladen is a politically active student who is speaking fluent English, travelling, attending conferences abroad and wanted to discuss about that topic in a workshop. But here in Ljubljana he discovered that even he is a young person with fewer opportunities.

Since he realized that, he started to feel as if he was not equal to the other participants. He did not care about the ongoing workshop, before he with a shaking voice told his stories: “I am treated as a criminal who wants to leave his country and never return. But I want to get to know other cultures, people and I want to talk to them. However they look at me like I am a person with a dangerous, highly conterminous virus”. Responsible for these feelings is the European Union.

In his working group the European visa system is seen as a “serious obstacle to mobility for young people”. In the final document which will be given to the EU officials as the youth voice of the participants demand “a standardized, transparent, respectful visa application procedure” and free visas for young people. The actual situation in European embassies outside of the Schengen borders sometimes does not seem to have much to do with European understanding of the rule of law.

People from non EU countries can show a lot of examples. For instance from the people who had to dance in front of the British embassy officers in Skopje for obtaining a visa, Nobody believed that they were booked to perform in England. Katherina Georgievska from Macedonia, another workshop participant, wanted to work for one year as a European volunteer for YMCA in London. For this period she resigned from her job as a lawyer and collected all the documents she needed for her visa. In the interviews in the British Embassy she had to tell private details about her job, life, family, relationship with her boyfriend. “It was so humiliating”, she says. She did everything they wanted her to do. But finally she was rejected. “You are young and single and we don’t expect you to come back”, she heard from the officer. Luckily she didn’t loose her job. Her eyes are full of pain and anger, while she’s saying: “I will never go to England again.”

Even though, the participants of the Youth Conference can be seen as a privileged elite the Slovenian Ministry for Education and Sports had to call Mladens embassy in Skopje to speed up the visa process. Without this call the Montenegrin delegation would not have been able to attend. But what about mobility of young persons from lower social classes who have never been abroad and who have never ever left their home country or does not even know English? No one was inviting these people to talk about their problems. You won’t meet them here, among conference hopping young people, eating three course meals in the workshop breaks or after the discussion with commissioners from Brussels about fewer opportunities.

Links:
Get VISAble – European Youth Forum Campaign against visa Borders

PHOTOS: Thomas Alboth

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