November 30, 2023 | Thursday

What inspired the Kosovo Government’s #VisaFree Campaign

An interview with Klisman Kadiu, Political Advisor to the First Deputy Prime Minister at the Kosovo Government

What inspired the development of the Government’s Visa Liberalisation campaign in Kosovo?

The European Union’s decision to grant visa liberalisation to Kosovo and recognise our progress in relevant areas, triggered us to start an information campaign and reach out to the people of Kosovo, having in mind the gap between when the final decision was made in April 2023 and the start of the implementation of the visa free agreement on 1 January 2024. We think this period of time offered a good opportunity for us to reach out to people across Kosovo. 

How did you come up with the slogan of the campaign and how eager were people to learn more about travelling to Europe after visa liberalisation? 

Our main slogan was PaViza, which means without visas. The slogan was inspired by years spent by people in front of embassies waiting to apply for short-stay visas, efforts which often resulted in them not being granted a visa. In the last decade, millions of euros were spent from people on requests for such visas, in a process that also produced disappointment among them. So, it was a way to say that now you can visit and explore Europe for short stays, without a visa, and without having to spend time in queues in front of embassies. 

What elements did the campaign comprise of and which element of the campaign proved itself most attractive to the people?

We targeted TVs and social media, and especially visits on the ground – a sort of street marketing –  where meeting people was a focal point of our campaign. A Visa-Liberalisation branded truck travelled throughout Kosovo, from 5 October until 17 November. We visited many cities and localities. A team that consisted of Government representatives, mainly civil servants, staffed this mobility truck with  help and backup from our partners that joined us in this campaign. The team on the ground distributed leaflets and brochures with information to people and invited them to participate in the EU Quiz. Simple questions were asked and those who answered correctly got the chance to become part of the contest to win a ticket to Vienna for their first trip without a visa. This is sponsored and funded by the Government and its partners. Also, everyone who participated in the quiz was given a gift, which was either a t-shirt, a tote bag or a hat with visa liberalisation logos.

Could you provide an overview of the primary goals and objectives of the campaign?

Our main objective was to positively use the last months prior to the start of the visa-free movement, to inform all citizens on the benefits of visa liberalisation, and also thoroughly explain what visa liberalisation means and what it doesn’t. We are still working through different platforms, to make sure that the message reaches as many people as possible, from all communities. 

What specific strategies or methods did you employ to reach out to people across different cities in Kosovo?

To reach people on the ground, we had a team that visited cities and localities, and distributed leaflets and brochures with information. On social media, we were always active in our Kosovo’s European Integration channels on Facebook, Instagram and we were also updating our website with information. We were present in TVs, not only by responding on-time to questions from journalists about visa liberalisation, but also through interviews. Our informative materials are also easy to find in strategic locations, such as the airport and soon in every border crossing, at Civil Registration Offices, where people obtaining the Kosovo passport can get informed, and also travel agencies and other locations.

How did you ensure that the information about visa liberalisation reached diverse demographics within Kosovo’s population (gender, ethnicity, age)?

On the ground we made sure to approach as many people as possible, regardless of gender, age or ethnicity. Visa liberalisation is for all, and it’s for every single person from Kosovo, so it was important for us to reach out to everyone. Our leaflets and brochures also targeted communities in their own languages, such as Serbian, Roma, Turkish and so on. An important thing to note is that we did the best we could to keep the information as simple as possible, to help people get a clear message regarding the rules of visa liberalisation.

What were the challenges faced while conducting this outreach campaign? Did you manage to take it to more remote/rural areas?

Apart from cities, we also visited many localities and rural areas. While on the ground one of the difficulties faced was of course the rainy days, since not many people were moving around cities/localities. A positive aspect was recorded when we received positive feedback in the four municipalities in the north, and we witnessed a big interest in getting information about visa liberalisation.

Can you share any memorable moments or stories from interactions you had with people during the campaign?

Every person I’ve met during this period, had a personal story to tell about the frustration on different levels throughout the years and the process of not getting a visa. You can clearly notice their relief for finally being able to travel freely to Europe for short stays. I think this is the most remarkable achievement we’ve reached and also the most memorable thing of this campaign: to be able to positively impact people’s lives.

How did you employ social media platforms or technology in the campaign?

Our main social media platforms used were Facebook and Instagram. Through regular and constant posting, we positively affected the algorithm of our page, and also sponsored specific posts to make sure that major outreach was achieved.

How did you measure the effectiveness and success of this outreach campaign in terms of informing people about visa liberalisation?

Data provided through our social media platforms and also data from the ground on materials distributed and citizens who visited our team in cities and localities, gave us a broad map to analyse the outreach and then work on targeting specific groups.

Were there any partnerships or collaborations that contributed significantly to the campaign’s success?

We had many partners that gave huge contributions to the campaign, special mention for the EU Office in Kosovo, GIZ and different embassies, and the media who played a vital role in spreading key information on visa liberalisation.

What key figures or state personalities participated in the campaign and how did this affect its impact? 

When the campaign officially started, Prime Minister Kurti was part of the event. Throughout the campaign, Deputy Prime Minister Besnik Bislimi was in different locations to visit the campaign. Also, the EU Office in Kosovo representatives, Ambassadors of Germany, France, Italy, Sweden, Finland, among other diplomatic corps joined us on several occasions and we thank them for their time and contribution to the campaign.