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Citizens of Kosovo have received tangible benefits through successful implementation of the Joint European Union and Council of Europe Programme “Horizontal Facility for the Western Balkans and Turkey”, the third Beneficiary Steering Committee Meeting concluded in Pristina today.
“For the Ministry of European integration, it is important that the European Union and the Council of Europe continue to support the ongoing reforms. We have a long way ahead of us and we need to use the expertise of the Council of Europe and other partners, like we have done so far through Horizontal Facility”, said Krenare Bektashi Muçolli, Horizontal Facility Beneficiary Co-ordinator from the Ministry of European integration.
Libor Chlad, Deputy Head of Co-operation section in the European Union Office highlighted two crucial areas of co-operation covered through the Horizontal Facility – rule of law and education. “We are here to look back on the results, but also to contemplate on how to be even better in the future. Commitment of Kosovo institutions is important for ensuring sustainability of the results achieved and we hope to see even stronger ownership in the second phase”, he concluded.
“Thanks to its result-oriented focus, this Programme has been instrumental in supporting the implementation of key reforms in compliance with European standards and its flexibility allowed quick response to the newly identified needs on the ground”, said Delphine Freymann, Head of the Programming Division, Office of the Directorate General of Programmes of the Council of Europe. “We have managed to build a great partnership in Kosovo and now it is time to show to citizens how our achievements made their lives better”, she added.
Actions under the Horizontal Facility in Kosovo have achieved many notable results. With the aim to achieve faster justice for citizens, the programme supported the Kosovo Judicial Council and the courts to begin collecting relevant data for analysis and to monitor the length of proceedings. Furthermore, the courts and the Kosovo Judicial Council are now analysing judicial statistics and sharing analysis with public on social media, thus making the work of the courts more transparent.
The capacities of the Kosovo Police were strengthened through newly developed police training programmes focused on police ethics, ill-treatment prevention, police inspection and respect for gender equality and non-discrimination and the action also contributed to strengthening the independence of the Police Inspectorate of Kosovo. Important work has been done to help prisoners’ re-integration into society after their release and 50% of all medical and rehabilitation prison staff were successfully trained in delivering health care in line with European ethical principles.
Creating a safe learning environment was in the focus of one of the actions in Kosovo. Two hundred teachers have been trained on social inclusion, drop-out prevention and how to combat bullying and violence in schools and 26 April has been designated as the Day of Diversity and Inclusion and celebrated by 20 pilot schools and beyond. The Draft Law on Higher Education was prepared and it requires universities to adopt and implement codes of ethics and related integrity policies.
The three-year Horizontal Facility programme runs from May 2016 to May 2019; it aims to assist authorities in the South-East Europe in achieving greater compliance with European standards in the following key areas: ensuring justice, fighting economic crime, as well as combating discrimination and protecting rights of vulnerable groups. In Kosovo, 2.7 million euros have been allocated for five actions, covering all the key areas of the Horizontal Facility.