Delegation of the European Union to Gabon, Sao Tomé-et-Principe and CEEAC

Borrell: Kosovo and Serbia need a final agreement on all open issues

30/01/2020 - 15:03
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Josep Borrell Fontelles, High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy/Vice-President of the European Commission (HR/VP), in an exclusive interview with Pristina-based Telegrafi speaks about his visit to Kosovo, his expectations on dialogue, final agreement between Kosovo and Serbia and visa liberalisation. Borrell said that Kosovo needs a government to move forward decisively and to deliver on the expectations of the people. Talking on the dialogue, Borrell said that Kosovo and Serbia need as soon as possible a final agreement which solves all their open issues. He speaks also on recent agreement on restoring air link between Kosovo and Serbia.

 

Telegrafi: Mr. Borrell what is the purpose of your visit to Kosovo?

Borrell: I wanted Kosovo to be my first destination as High Representative. The Western Balkans will be a priority during my mandate and, given my personal resolve to advance the EU-facilitated Dialogue, I wanted to visit Kosovo first in the region. What I want to do during my stay is to listen to and to get to know Kosovo counterparts – political leaders but also civil society. Of course, the current political situation will also form an important part of the discussions. I can only repeat our basic view. Kosovo needs a government to move forward decisively and to deliver on the expectations of the people.

 

Telegrafi: Mr. Borrell Kosovo and Serbia have signed a Pristina-Belgrade airline agreement under US coordination, was the EU part of this agreement?

Borrell: All arrangements that advance Belgrade-Pristina relations, such as the letter of intent for direct flights, are welcome. More economic growth, more investments are key for the region and for Serbia and Kosovo. It is clear. We continue to work very closely with the United States as we have a common and shared agenda for the region.

 

Telegrafi: Mr. Borrell, is the final agreement between Kosovo and Serbia in your EU priority?

Borrell: It is a priority for the region, for our Member States and of course for me. This is why I wanted to rapidly come to Kosovo and to Serbia. I am personally committed to spend time and spare no effort to get a final agreement. Both Serbia and Kosovo need as soon as possible a final agreement which solves all their open issues. The current situation holds them back. A lot of political energy goes into the normalisation or rather the lack of it. It would be better to use this political energy on reforms, investments or the environment. This is why the current state of play can no longer last. There is no status quo. Status quo means going backward. Serbia and Kosovo need a final agreement so that they move on their respective European paths.

 

Telegrafi: Mr . Borrell, Kosovo is the only country in the region without visa liberalization and this is being considered as EU discrimination against Kosovo citizens, what is your comment?

Borrell: Visa liberalisation remains our shared objective and is long overdue. I know that Kosovars want to travel freely to the EU and that the current situation makes them feel trapped/isolated. I cannot make promises when visa liberalisation will happen, this decision lies with the Member States. But from my side and from the side of the Commission, Kosovo has met the conditions and it is high time to proceed.

 

Telegrafi: Mr. Borrell, do you believe in a final agreement between Kosovo and Serbia that could happen this year?

Borrell: The timing is still in the hands of the parties.

 

Telegrafi: The EU has put environment on the top of its agenda. Could you tell us more about the European Green Deal and the impact on Kosovo, primarily through the EU's investment to improve air quality in Pristina by reducing harmful Kosovo B emissions?

Borrell: The European Green Deal is a vision and a package of transformative measures to tackle climate change and environmental degradation. Its ambition is unprecedented. The deal commits to make the EU carbon neutral by 2050 and presents a sustainable green transition that benefits European citizens and businesses. Implementing the European Green Deal and having global impact will require our collective action. The Western Balkans have an important role to play in this. Their future lies within the EU and we need to work together if we want to make Europe the world’s first climate neutral continent and to improve the quality of life of our citizens. The problem of air pollution is very evident these days, as several cities in the Western Balkans rank among the most polluted capitals in the world. Our partners and their people can count on the EU’s support to take effective action. During my visit, I will have the honour to inaugurate the EU-funded works to refurbish the Kosovo B power plant which will significantly lower emissions, contribute to reliable and clean energy supply and improve the health and well-being of citizens. Kosovo is Europe and needs to be a part of this joint effort. We hope and expect that our determination will be matched by that of Kosovo's policy makers.

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