According to the official data, Serbia exports 300 million euros worth of merchandise to the territory of Kosmet, while the unofficial estimates have that value at some 500 million, which indicates that approximately 40% of the circulation takes place in the gray area. With regards to the freedom of move, only recently the citizens with Pristina-issued personal documents have been allowed to cross the administrative line, with guarantees that they will stay in the territory of central Serbia no longer than 15 days. Jelica Tapuskovic has more on the subject.
The research of the Center for Regionalism, realized from July 2011 to May 2012, shows that the import of merchandise from the southern Serbian province to central Serbia amounts to 4 million euros, and it is comprised mostly of colored metals, iron and steel, certain fruits and vegetables, as well as beverages. Main exported merchandise to the Province is food, oil, grains, minerals, electricity etc. However, the greatest concern is the smuggling activity, in both directions, which not only violates all established regulations, but also harms the economy. Besides that, since 2008, when the Pristina authorities unilaterally proclaimed their independence, Serbia has been refusing to accept the trading and customs documents marked “the Republic of Kosovo”. As the result, the trade was stopped, i.e. it has been unfolding through indirect channels, via Montenegro and Macedonia. Due to many unsolved issues that have been disabling the implementation of CEFTA agreements, the EU had initiated the talks on the topics of documents and customs stamps, with the results achieved only in September 2011, after years of blockades and other complications.
Director of the Center for Regionalism, which ran the research, Aleksandar Popov has said that also worrying is the imbalanced exchange with northern Kosmet, comparing to the southern part of the Province, along with the fact that part of the merchandise going from central Serbia to northern Kosmet is exempted from taxes, but later it appears through “gray areas” in the southern part of Kosmet, or even in Serbia again. He stresses that the research took into account the information from both Belgrade and Pristina customs services, and also EULEX, as a neutral side. “Our goal was to have concrete recommendations given afterwards, in attempt to overcome the problems in this field”, explained Popov.
Associate of the Center from Pristina, Doruntina Vinca has stated that it was already noted earlier that there is interest to have the people travel unimpeded, and added that only since recently it has been enabled for the citizens with personal documents issued by Pristina to go over the administrative crossings without problems. She has also pointed that currently there is the problem of registration plates and vehicle insurance charges, but hopefully it will be solved soon, too.