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Customs Laws a Threat to Tourism in Kosovo

You may have seen a previous post promoting, German Folk singer Cat Henschelmann who had two performances booked in Prishtina. Well these performances had to be cancelled due to the ridiculous laws of the Kosovo Customs.

The events which happened on the 7th October 2013 are a threat to the entertainment industry and tourism in Kosovo.

image (2)Mr Henschelmann arrived at the Kosovo/Macedonia border at 9.am in the morning, after traveling by road from Germany, with all of his equipment, well in time for his first performance and Paddy O’Briens Irish Pub, the same night. He had traveled through many country borders to get Kosovo without problem.

At the border the Customs, told him he would have to pay 3,000 euros to take his equipment into Kosovo in cash. How many people travel with that much cash on them and why should anyone pay money for their own personal equipment? Cat Henschelmann was only going to spend one week in Kosovo. Stuck at the border and unable and unwilling to pay this amount, he telephoned Paddy O’Briens to tell them of his dilemma.

Mr. Henschelmann was also playing at Dit e Nat the following night so between the two venues, they called the Customs to find out why they were demanding this amount of money. They were told that is was a guarantee that, the equipment would leave the country and on departure the money would be returned.

Between the two venues they agreed to pay the money and tried to find somewhere in Prishtina to pay it, but when they got through to the Customs office, they were told that the money had to be paid at the border. With all the corruption in Kosovo, 3,000 euros handed over in cash, is a large sum of money to hand over to an officer at the border, with no guarantee it would be returned on departure.

Phone calls with different departments continued all day and then at 2pm Mr Henschelmann was then told he would have to pay 100 euros for every hour, that he was detained at the border, which was adding up. Then he was asked to pay 64.83 euros for the parking of his car at the border. At this stage a German Judge who had arranged for Cat Henschelmann to come to Kosovo, gave his credit card details as a guarantor that all the equipment would leave Kosovo, but this was not accepted by Customs, because they would only accept cash.

By 4pm, all attempts to get Cat Henschelmann and his equipment into Kosovo, had failed and he now was faced with a bill for 700 euros for the time it was taking for him to enter at the border and 64.83 euros for his car to be parked there. As all government offices close at 4pm there was nothing more that could be done to get him into Kosovo for his first performance that night.

Mr Henschelmann was so angered by Kosovo Customs, that he turned around and drove back to Germany.

Why is it that musicians are having so much trouble bringing their equipment into Kosovo? You think that was bad enough? Well another example of this stupid law or corruption, at the very same border beggars belief.

A drummer from Kosovo was traveling to Macedonia to play, taking his drum kit with him. All was fine until he tried to re-enter Kosovo. At the border the Customs wanted to charge him to take his drums back into Kosovo. He told the Customs that he had bought them in Kosovo and was just returning home after playing a gig. He was told to prove it, which he couldn’t do, so had to leave his drum kit to a friends house in Macedonia, until he could take back the proof of where he bought them.

Why are the Kosovo Customs at the Macedonia border asking for large amounts of money for visitors to bring their personal belongings or tools of the trade into Kosovo?

  • Why are the targeting the music industry?
  • Why do they not ask for guarantees on Lamborghinis or other luxury cars which enter Kosovo and then sold.
  • Is this a law or corruption?
  • If it is a law then does this mean we have to pay money on entering Kosovo for our personal computers, ipads or any other expensive devices.
  • Does this mean that tourists will have to empty their suitcases and have proof of purchase of all their belongings?

This sets a very bad precedent for tourism in Kosovo and the chance for any International band with millions of euros, worth of equipment to ever be able to perform here. Can you imagine them being asked for millions of euros to be paid to a border guard, to enter Kosovo? This is a ridiculous state of affairs and very damaging for Kosovo which is trying to attract tourism.

Why is it, that no other country border has this law and since when do you have to pay such huge sums of money in cash to take your personal effects into Kosovo? Did EULEX make this ruling?

Please leave your comments, if you have been asked to pay money at the border in Kosovo or anywhere else.

JLC

4 thought on “Corruption or Just Plain Stupidity!!!!”
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