A play by Qendra Multimedia titled “A play with four actors…” that was supposed to be shown today, March 21 at 5:00 pm at the Hungarian Theatre in Timisoara, Romania as part of the TESZT festival was cancelled. Unfortunately, part of the team was not able to ensure visas to travel to Romania.
In the past couple of months, I and the Qendra Multimedia staff have made multifront efforts to secure visas for the whole team, but our attempts were met with bureaucracy and derogatory treatment by European embassies in Prishtina. I am shocked by the fact that after all the international presentations of our performances (over 100), the visa regime affecting our artists has become more rigid, fierce and unapologetic. Since we have tried it firsthand, in the past few years, the Schengen area has become an area of “soft fascism” to us, through which regulative European bureaucracy converted to “Schengen visas” tramples, mistreats and belittles.
Paradoxically, ten days ago, the EU office in Kosovo honored me with the “European of the Year” award for “promoting European ideals and values.” And now, ten days later, my team and I were not allowed to travel to Romania. That is why I am questioning whether these “European ideas and values” include this racist and belittling approach that some EU embassies in Kosovo have towards Kosovars? Because then, I would much rather want to remain without this ‘European’ crown, I would much rather remain an artist that makes an effort and tries to fight against rules that oppress the little, the powerless and the different among us, an artist that is against the privileges of some European citizens on the back of other ‘non-European’ citizens.
This is the second time that a play by Qendra Multimedia is disabled to be shown outside of Kosovo. A few years ago, Chinese authorities rejected visas for our theater team that was going to participate in the Shanghai International Experimental Theatre Festival (SIETF). This is the second time that we were unable to show our play as a result of bureaucratic and political complications relating to visas. Yet, while the first case had a “logical” reason considering that China does not recognize Kosovo, we consider the inability to participate at a European festival as very concerning. Europe and its Schengen Zone gave a small (but meaningful) example that when it comes to Kosovo, their only difference with China is geography.