The European Union tells Kosovo to curb migration of its residents into Western Europe before any a visa-free regime can be introduced. Deborah Lutterbeck reports.
They have been risking it all to get out of Kosovo. Since September, more than 30 thousand illegal migrants have been caught in Hungary alone, that compares with 6 thousand for the whole of 2013. Officials in Pristina say the number has reached 50 thousand. Now EU commissioner Johannes Hahn says the visa free regime for Kosovo is on hold until the migration stops. (SOUNDBITE) (English) EUROPEAN UNION COMMISSIONER FOR ENLARGEMENT, JOHANNES HAHN, SAYING: "Before we can recommend visa free status for Kosovo citizens, the number of asylum applications to the European Union and the number of people irregularly staying in the Schengen area need to fall. I therefore appeal to you to strengthen your border controls and inform travelers that they will not be granted asylum." Kosovo's Prime Minister Isa Mustafa says the country can take care of it's own. (SOUNDBITE) (Albanian) KOSOVO PRIME MINISTER, ISA MUSTAFA, SAYING : "We are ready to repatriate them (Kosovo migrants seeking asylum in EU), we consider Kosovo to be a safe country for its citizens. We take the responsibility to secure jobs and livelihood for them in our country." The vast majority are fleeing poverty, unemployment or low-paid labor for the more affluent countries of Western Europe. More than a third of the workforce in Kosovo is unemployed.