EuroNews 07-2006, Bureaucracy first – Travelling Dreams

Holidays with barriers

Summertime – Traveltime. Also many young Serbians use the time to go to holidays. But it isn`t as easy as you think. Because reviuos to the beach advances the bureaucracy.

After passing one or two faculty exams, student have found themselves in half-emptied Belgrade. Where have all the people gone? Does it have something with aggressive campaigns of tourist agencies inviting everybody to use vacation for the journey of life, to visit Greece, Turkey, Egypt, Tunisia, Bulgaria…Rare and modest are invitations to spend this summer in Monte Negro.

Up to date statistics are showing that more than 60% of those who travel at all will visit Greece. It’s a top destination in Serbia this year. It is the most beautiful nearby country, and most of all, the only country member of EU for which we could possibly get visa document, that is so called collective or group visa.

After you collect a bunch of papers on being regular student, including the copy of your latest exam marks(so the Greek representative could be assured that you are not some kind of “make believe” student), and also your last and expired passport document, and the proof of how You support yourself, and the copy of Your health insurance booklet…and so on; You find Yourself so tired that you almost lose interest to move anywhere.

As for young married couples, if one partner is not a student anymore but unemployed (and there’s plenty of such), they have to go to nearest county to get the proof of how is the one unemployed being supported. Two witnesses are needed for this paper work. The most interesting is coming next: the unemployed one can’t travel alone, without the employed partner. Saving marriages or preventing the unemployed one of leaving the country which is not in EU and staying (for ever?) in The one that is in?

The poorer travelers will visit Bulgaria after almost 24 hours in bus-sitting position. There are no flights from Belgrade to Bulgarian coast. Nevertheless, many people will go to Bulgaria while they still can, cause that’s one more neighbourly country stepping into EU soon. For now, only passport is enough to pass the border.

Only rare will go to Egypt and Turkey due to the fear of terrorist attacks. Free visa regime will not attract travelers to Croatia-many saw it before, no challenge, nothing exotic there and expensive, too. If we investigate the traveling direction of those in Serbia who can afford to travel, we can notice they all go south or east of Serbia. There is a well known quote that says: “The more You go towards south, the saddier You become!” Well, that one certainly doesn’t apply to Greece. On the contrary, exceptions make rules!

A friend of mine is a painter, neither student nor employed, but she owns two passports from the countries of ex Yugoslavia. One of them has that better EU status. She wanted to use low cost “German wings” air company but they are not flying from Belgrade airport yet. They couldn’t get license for (or from) Serbia. So she flew to Prague and called. She has traveling plans. First of all, she’ll visit some friends in Berlin. There she’ll take “German wing” to fly to Paris. She has to go there to buy some materials for her new exibition. Moving and flying from place to place is so easy for her. How is that so and where did she get the money? You need the money even if You use low cost companies and hostels. I’ll tell You the secret – she sold her apartment. Everybody would buy and even take bank loan for it, but not her. She needs to move constantly because her art is not local nor her spirit is. In order to succeed as an artist she needs to be everywhere. To be creative, she needs to travel.

The other friend of mine is Slovenian living in Belgrade, Serbia. She has this nice black cat. And, imagine, that cat owns EU passport with her digital photo in it. What a person she is! But my friend and her cat are both to lazy to travel anywhere. She came to Belgrade to visit her mom and stayed forever along with her cat.

While the EU officials are discussing wheather they should make traveling for young citizens easier, very sad statistics say that more than 70% of young people in Serbia have never ever been abroad. Anywhere, neither south nor north! They seem to be forced to obey another known Serbian saying: “Stay hear ’cause You don’t fit not even near!”

As for me now, I have an inner conflict. The fact is I adore animals but now I envy that lazy black cat so much that I’m considering “stealing” that document of hers, if only for once, and for short. She wouldn’t even notice, and I’d bring it back…when I come back. No worry, I’ll come back. Everybody’s coming back to Serbia, cause life here is so beautiful.

Written by Jelena Radovic