EU countries should stop the forced repatriation of Kosovans as this would only worsen the economic situation in the poor, landlocked Balkan country, European human rights envoy Thomas Hammarberg said on Friday.
"The major powers in Europe should hold back," he told a media conference. "Kosovo is not ready to receive a larger scale of people returning from other countries at this stage."
The Council of Europe's Human Rights Commissioner said after a visit to Kosovo that sending immigrants home would have a huge impact on the country where four in 10 people are unemployed.
Some 20-30 percent of Kosovo's mainly Albanian population live abroad. Official statistics say that remittances from the diaspora, mainly in Germany, Switzerland and Italy, account for around 15 percent of Kosovo's economy or around 4 billion euros ($5.47 billion) annually.
Some EU states, having signed repatriation agreements with the Pristina government, send home thousands of Kosovans a year.
Around 30,000 young people enter the job market every year in Kosovo. Many leave the country for Western Europe, most often illegally, by paying 2,000-3,000 euros to human traffickers.
ReutersLast Mod: 13 Şubat 2010, 11:41