- Bosnia and Herzegovina
- All Balkan Countries
I don't know which airline to fly with, I'll see what's available on the day. I am almost penniless, but nobody will know, because nobody will check my bank account. The economic situation looks bad, I may be out of a job, but nobody else will have a clue about that. Why am I going, you may ask? Because I can!
This will be my dilemma on January 1st, I hope but for the time being, I'll stay reserved (but quietly delighted) and wait for the moment when I will be able to jump in the car and hit the road for a weekend away, without making plans six months in advance.
Maybe I'll decide to spend my vacation in a local village or simply stay at home. But just knowing that I can go wherever and whenever I want, will be fantastic.
I and many other people will finally be released from "prison" after 17 years. I have spent more than half of my life in isolation, more than 10 years in queues on the streets outside Embassies, several times every year, getting ready for the questions:
So, where will you be staying?
How long will you be staying?
Do you have a reservation?
How well do you know the people you're staying with?
Which airline will you be flying with?
Do you have a ticket?
Who will you be seeing?
Do you plan to work?
How much money will you be taking?
How much do you earn?
Can I see you bank statements?
All the while getting those looks - you know the ones - single woman, travelling to Europe, what's she going to be doing there?
It was a given fact, it seemed, that we were all criminals or benefit scroungers. But now...
No more having to beg friends to send me invitation letters so that I can visit them. 17 years of waiting in line for a visa were instructive - thank you - but I think I will survive without it.
Joking apart, I assume that many will say that this is unfair, that these 17 years of isolation were deserved punishment for Serbian politics, that - instead of being "rewarded" - Serbs should continue to pay for all the bad things they've done. Now I don't want to pretend that we can wash our hands of everything that's happened in the past, but most Serbs are too young to have played any part in the terrible events of the 90s and do we really believe that "the sins of the father should be visited upon the son?"
But the point is completely different.
Let's not view this as some kind of reward for good behaviour. Let others judge the past in the appropriate forum. Serbia, with other countries in the region, entered what was a technical and administrative process and has fulfilled the requirements asked of it by the EU.
But it's true that Serbia and Serbs will gain much more from it than just not having to queue or have their finances examined. Travel, they say, broadens the mind - let's hope they're right and that we will finally get a chance to see and experience a different world out there, learn to respect diversity and just maybe lay to rest some of the demons of the past.
Speaking of reward, this is the biggest Serbia will get.
In two high-profile war crimes trials currently ongoing in Pristina, a series of witnesses have retracted previous statements alleging abuse at Kosovo Liberation Army detention centres.