BELGRADE -- At least 1,200 new biometric Serbian passports have been issued to Albanians based in Kosovo or southern Serbia, the Belgrade daily "Danas" has reported.
Giving Serbian passports to Kosovar Albanians is highly controversial, as Serbia does not recognize Kosovo independence and continues to call the new state "Serbia's Southern Province."
The Serbian Radical Party supports the government's issuing of passports to Kosovar Albanians, seeing it as a confirmation of Serbian jurisdiction over Kosovo. But they insist that a passport be issued only to those who do not hold a Kosovar passport.
At least half a million Kosovo Albanians live in Western Europe and return to Kosovo for visits, often via Belgrade. But Serbia does not recognize Kosovar passports, so they are forced to take Serbian travel documents in order to drive home or face paying higher prices for flights to the Kosovar capital of Pristina.
Kosovo Top Chanel TV reporter Idro Seferi is a Kosovar Albanian based in Belgrade who recently got a new Serbian passport. He told RFE/RL's South Slavic and Albanian Languages Service that some Albanians will pay up to 300 euros ($395) for a new Serbian passport.
Only 34 countries have thus far officially recognized Kosovo's passport.