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5 Sep, 2008 01:48

Kosovo passport opens new doors

It’s 200 days since Kosovo declared its independence, and its citizens are queuing up to be issued with their new passports. The dark blue document, sporting the Kosovan coat of arms and written in Albanian, Serbian and

Kosovars have been queuing for days outside the Ministry of Interior for a chance to get a passport they can really call their own. It's something citizens of most countries take for granted, but those queuing with their identity papers in the capital, Pristina, have had to make do with United Nations travel documents.

Merita Morina eagerly flew from England to pick up her Kosovan passport, even though she already has a British passport.

“Now we're going to get our passport, the Kosovan one. I can't wait to see it, I just saw it on TV and I haven't seen the real one. It's quite a good feeling!” she gushed.

Businessman Seremb Gjergji couldn't wait to use his – the ink was still wet when he went abroad. But he got a surprise at the Israeli border control.

“When I went, the border police said they did not have Kosovo among the names of the countries. I said, 'We are a new country, we just got independence.' They said, 'We heard but you're not on the list.' They put me through a security check which lasted half an hour and then they let me in,” recalled Gjergji.

Among countries who don't accept the passport as a valid travel document and say they will never recognise Kosovo's independence are Serbia and Russia.

“In general this government is open to compromises, but the mood of the population is still towards protection of the country's territorial integrity,” said the Serbian Deputy Foreign Minister, Vladimir Krsljanin.

Kosovo is hopeful that, even if it does not achieve full international recognition, its citizens will still be able to travel on the new passports.

“We are aware of difficulties in the beginning stage. There are some countries who are reluctant to recognise the new reality, but we are working on it and we expect more recognition in the weeks and months to come. It is possible for countries not to recognise us, but to recognise our passport is an issue of human rights and freedom of movement,” said the republic's Interior Minister, Zenun Pajaziti.