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.Lonely western women Sonja, a German from Stuttgart, was the target of one Kosovar Albanian man seeking permanent residency in Germany.Now in her early thirties, she married an Albanian from the Mitrovica area of northern Kosovo 13 years ago. Two years ago, her husband remarried a German woman.
Against a background of such economic hardship, many people feel desperate to obtain the right to live and work in western Europe. Unlike their Balkan neighbours, Kosovars do not enjoy visa-free travel within the EU Schengen zone. It is almost impossible for Kosovars to gain German citizenship unless they are born there, or enter the country as an infant and go to school there.Germany is a popular destination for Kosovars seeking foreign wives, and eventually an EU passport, because there is already a large Albanian expatriate population living there.The women that these Kosovar Albanians marry in the West believe they have found ideal, attentive husbands.Each month, Valbona’s ex-husband sends back money for her to spend on their four children.Such money counts for a lot in a country as poor as Kosovo, where 40 per cent of the population is unemployed and the average monthly salary of those in work is only about 200 euros.One especially suspicious case involved a local man marrying a foreigner who was 15 years older than him, he recalls.Such unions are practically unknown in patriarchal Kosovo, where marriage to a woman more than a decade older than her husband violates all tradition.In parallel with the increased number of divorces, marriages to foreign citizens have also risen, mostly to residents of western countries.In 2009, officials in Pristina recorded 98 such marriages between Kosovar men and women from the West.Unknown to his German wife, Valbona has already spent one summer holiday with her ex-husband back in Kosovo.Benefits override taboo In the past, Albanian families did not accept divorce so easily.