Kosovo: Temporary marriages a key to entering EU

Kosovo: Temporary marriages a key to entering EU

Via the Sofia Echo:

Each time she goes to sleep, Valbona (35), from Peja, western Kosovo, looks at her wedding photograph taken 13 years ago. Beside her, she sees her smiling husband.

Today, that moment is just a memory. Two years ago, her husband remarried a German woman. Not only did Valbona, mother of their four children aged four to 11, know of his plan, she approved it.

This is because Valbona is not really divorced in the eyes of her family or the wider community.

Many Kosovar Albanian men divorce their first wives by mutual consent, departing for western Europe where they find new spouses who enable them to obtain residency papers.

They leave their children behind in Kosovo so that they can pose as single men and remarry fast. Once they have permanent residency in Germany, or other EU states, they divorce their second wives, go back to their first ones and bring the family to the West.


In the past, Albanian families did not accept divorce so easily. But the taboo has been forgotten now that Kosovar Albanians have discovered the usefulness of divorcing and remarrying foreigners in order to gain papers to live in western Europe.

Not all foreign wives are equally acceptable, of course.

A second marriage to a non-Albanian is seen as worthless unless the new wife has citizenship of the European Union. But if men divorce their Kosovar wives for that reason, society turns a blind eye.


Many Kosovar Albanians defend the practice of men going abroad to seek temporary foreign second wives in order to improve their prospects.

Valdrin Hoxha, an unemployed 23-year-old from Pristina, said he would do the same thing if he could.

"I would explain to my family that after getting the (EU) documents I would divorce my foreign wife and marry a Kosovar girl," he says, confidently.


Leaders of all the main faiths in Kosovo also vehemently condemn the trend.

Most Kosovar Albanians are Muslims but there is also a small Catholic minority. The clergy of both religions view matrimony as sacrosanct. "Marriage is permanent and has no time-limit; it is eternal," says Bedri Syla, an imam from Skenderaj in central Kosovo. The imam views so-called divorces, contracted mainly for the sake of obtaining documents, as a mockery and sacrilegious.

"These are games that break down families and morality," he says, citing verses from the Koran. Such doings can never be justified in Islam, he adds, regardless of the potential benefits. His views are fully echoed by Don Shan Zefi, a Catholic priest in Pristina.

"Marriages like these are not permissible morally, psychologically or legally," he says.