Check against delivery!
I am happy we could hold this Stabilisation and Association Council in person.
I see Prime Minister [of Kosovo, Albin] Kurti quite often, not as often as I would like, but we talk [often] on the phone; but this meetings together with Commissioner [for Neighbourhood and Enlargement, Olivér] Várhelyi has offered an important opportunity to discuss, in a focused way, our bilateral European Union-Kosovo agenda.
You are here measuring the advances and the progress, because our Stabilisation and Association Agreement remains the core of the relationship between the European Union and Kosovo. It is your guide on the European path and it creates trade and investment opportunities. But certainly, we cannot do the work for you.
That is why I welcomed Prime Minister Kurti and his government’s [decision] to place a strong focus on rule of law and boosting the economy, to create opportunities for the people of Kosovo.
We remain determined to continue our efforts in the fight against corruption and organised crime. We would like to see more progress here, as well as in regards to the Public Administration reform.
That is why we have been encouraging Kosovo to continue and speed up the reform process and also to keep the dedication and focus on EU-facilitated Dialogue on the normalisation of relations with Serbia.
We talked about this today. I think it is crucial for Kosovo to constructively engage in the European Union-facilitated Dialogue, which means respecting and fully implementing all past agreements, without any kind of selective engagement.
Here, both Kosovo and Serbia have a lot of work to do, because the status quo is not favourable nor sustainable for neither of them.
My last words are to stress the importance of improving regional cooperation and good neighbourhood. It is crucial to overcome the legacy of the past, to remove barriers to businesses and people within the region, and to help Kosovo and the entire region to get closer to Europe.
We certainly remain committed to accompany you in these efforts and I am looking forward to continuing in this engagement.
My colleague, Commissioner Várhelyi, will go deeper in some aspects of our relationship. I am not going to repeat some things that, for sure, the Commissioner will explain in depth.
Q. Mr Borrell, you announced after the November’s FAC that there will be a new round of high-level Dialogue meeting during December and it is already 7 December. Is there any confirmation that this meeting will happen?
We always organise and announce the high-level meetings of the Dialogue when appropriate and in due time. We have not announced it yet. We have made it very clear after the two meetings this year that the pre-condition for the next one is the readiness of both parties to agree on concrete results. It will be completely useless to call for another meeting if we can perceive that these conditions are not met and to meet again for nothing.
My recent outreach and the shuttle diplomacy by the European Union Special Representative [for the Belgrade – Pristina Dialogue, Miroslav] Lajčák, to whom I have to thank for his tireless work, have shown that – to my understanding – there is no such readiness at this point. But, the year is still not over and we will continue doing everything we can to try to have such meeting, if we can ensure that there is going to be some outcome. We cannot force the partners if they lack the readiness to engage constructively, but I have to manage our agenda, our political energies depending on the foreseen output.
Q. Mr Borrell, you said that it is crucial for Kosovo to be constructive in this Dialogue with Belgrade. Did you speak concretely today about the constructiveness of Mr. Kurti regarding the implementation of the obligation of Kosovo regarding the Association of Serbian communities?
On the Association/Community of Serb majority municipalities, what I have to say is what I already said during this meeting several times and before this meeting. Establishing an association/community of Serb majority municipalities is part of the Brussels Agreement. This agreement was concluded in good faith by all parties involved. And we expect all agreements to be respected and fully implemented by both parties. Because addressing the needs of the Serb communities is an important element of the full normalisation process. With the same words, I have been addressing this issue today to Prime Minister Kurti. This part of the agreement has to be implemented and it is part of addressing anyway the future agreements for the normalisation of relations.
[reacting to previous remarks by Prime Minister Kurti]. Allow me to say that I am a democrat too. I am not here to serve any politician from any side. What has happened with the car plates has shown that –and it should be an example - that the Dialogue is the only forum to address and resolve all open issues. And I would like you to recognise fully the importance of this Dialogue in order to overcome the difficulties for Kosovo to integrate the international community fully. I disagree with you on the fact that it is the Constitutional Court that puts obstacles, and makes impossible the implementation of this Agreement. This was done by the representative governments of two parties acting in good faith and according to international norms to establish agreements in the framework of the Dialogue. So, I am sorry, Prime Minister [Kurti], we have to continue asking for the implementation of this agreement. I know that there are other agreements pending. I know that on both sides there are agreements which have not been implemented, but this is a very important one.
Q. On the Dialogue, there was a temporary agreement about the car plates, which is good, but you, Mr Borrell, when you came you used to say that the final agreement might be an issue of months, not years. Will the Dialogue aim to achieve a final agreement? Will this include the recognition or you will continue to deal with practical problems that may arise from time to time on the ground?
Yes, this topic and all topics - we are here to discuss, we are here to strengthen our relationship, we are here to see how we can advance on the Dialogue. The purpose of the Dialogue is to reach a comprehensive legal agreement about normalisation of the relationship between Kosovo and Serbia. What does it mean? It is for the parties to decide, it is not for me. I am a facilitator; I am trying to make people agree. Agree on what? On the normalisation of the relationship. Without the normalisation of the relationship between Serbia and Kosovo, there is not going to be a clear path to the European Union. What is it about? Which is the essence? It is up to the parties to decide. I cannot say which has to be the final outcome. If I would be saying such a thing, I would be part of the game. I am not part of the game, I am just trying to push you to discuss and to push for a solution. And that is what I am trying to do, to encourage both parties to continue the discussion. When I said “it is a matter of months, not years”, it is because it has been lasting, how many years? Too many, no? So, if there is good will, the problem can be solved tomorrow equally than in three years from now. And, I do not think that Kosovo people, and the Balkans as a whole, can wait for normalisation “in years”. It is going to be a big obstacle for the future of these countries on the way to Europe.
Link to the video: https://audiovisual.ec.europa.eu/en/video/I-215287