I got Serbia to stamp my Kosovo passport

How a Danube cruise that ran aground ended with me becoming a Facebook sensation.

After three days cruising on the Danube, we ran aground. I was stuck in the middle of nowhere someplace between Romania, Bulgaria and Serbia. We had boarded the ship
in Giurgiu, at the Romania-Bulgaria border on June 18th and now we were marooned
in the river until the 20th, when the ship disembarked in Donji Milanovac, in Serbia.

I was taking part in a floating strategic planning session for my NGO, the Forum Alpach Network, an Austrian organization with members from all over the Europe.

All the passengers on the ship were invited to present our passports and so four of us presented our Kosovo passports to the police at the checking point on the border. In meantime, as I am used to, I expected them to provide us with a separate sheet of paper with a stamp on it, as has been the usual procedure since the 2011 agreement between Kosovo and Serbia on free movement.

To our surprise, that did not happen this time. In the end, they gave us back our passports. When I asked them about the separate paper, they said: “We don’t know about the paper, and you are free to enter Serbia.”

We took our passports, not even bothering to double-check whether or not they were stamped.

The following day, waiting for the bus from Belgrade to Prishtina, I was wondering how we were going to cross the border without the usual separate sheet of paper! I checked my passport and was astonished to see the stamp of Serbian border control on my passport from the Republic of Kosovo. I could not hold back, so I to uploaded the stamp to my Facebook page. Within minutes, while I was still in Belgrade, some online portals in Kosovo had posted the news that “Serbia surrenders and recognizes Kosovo passports”

Be that as it may, I had the perception that when we tried to cross the Serbian border control in Merdare we would have difficulties, because I realized that the border control in Donji Milanovac had made a mistake in stamping my passport. I did not take long and the next interesting moment started when we presented our passports in Merdare at the Serbian side of the border. Of course they were shocked. How could that ever happen? A Serbian stamp on a Kosovo passport!

Of course the Serbian border police grilled us for about three hours until the organizer of the conference intervened in Belgrade with the Ministry of Internal Affairs. Only then were we free to pass the border. They also invalidated my stamp.

Our trip was full of surprises: getting stuck in the Danube, being questioned by Serbian border police for three hours, and more. Yet there were lots of joyful moments. The highlight of story is that although they invalidated their stamp, thanks to this trip, we can claim to be the first Kosovars with Serbian stamps in our Kosovo passports.


03 July 2015 - 16:07

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