I have dealt with Kosovo-related issues since 1998 and visited Pristina several times in my national capacity. I have learned that the people in Kosovo are very open, hospitable and hard working.
I have arrived to Kosovo in the challenging times of the COVID-19 when many people in the world experience mental, physical and economic hardship. People in Kosovo are no exception. I feel compassion for all those suffering and for their relatives. To succeed in fighting the pandemic it is essential to stay responsible, protect each other and follow recommendations by the authorities.
The EU has already provided 168 million euro to Kosovo to address health and socio-economic aspects of the COVID-19 pandemic. My predecessor, Ambassador Apostolova, has done a great job in this respect. Rest assured that this will remain my top priority.
Together with assistance related to COVID-19, I will continue to promote the well-established and long term priorities of the EU: better education for all, more legal certainty, support to economic growth, and improved investment climate. It is crucial that people have confidence in the institutions and know that their advancement in life is the result of their work and their merit. I will continue to call for an effective fight against corruption and organized crime.
Strengthening and improving the electoral process must also be taken as a priority.
Kosovo also needs to focus more of its efforts on the environment. The EU is investing €76m to reduce pollution and health hazard from the Kosovo B power plant. Green recovery is an opportunity for Kosovo’s future development.
A more robust implementation of the Stabilisation and Association Agreement (SAA) that Kosovo has signed with the EU is in our mutual interest. I am confident that the people’s lives will get better the more the SAA gets implemented: standard of living will go up and corruption will decrease. The SAA implementation is Kosovo’s great chance for progress.
Better social services, more gender equality, less domestic violence, stronger civil society, more independent media, investment in culture, and more support and sympathy for different communities and underprivileged groups, is also needed in Kosovo.
The EU has invested over 2.5 billion euro in every segment of the Kosovo society over the last 20 years. Only in the 2014-2019 period, the EU assisted Kosovo with 470 million euro, supporting the rule of law, fundamental rights, environment, energy, education, employment, competitiveness, SMEs, innovation, agriculture, democracy and governance.
The EU is Kosovo’s top investor, donor and trade partner. We have created thousands of jobs, supported hundreds of companies, and built numerous schools. Thanks to EU funds, Pristina has 24/7 water now, and tens of thousands people enjoy first class district heating.
I want Kosovo people to be able to travel visa free as soon as possible. The European Commission and the European Parliament have said that Kosovo has met all the conditions and recommended that the visas be lifted for Kosovo. A final decision now needs to be taken by the EU Member States.
My renewed EUSR mandate demonstrates the EU Member States commitment to Kosovo, as the EUSR has the overall EU political coordination role in Kosovo.
I am encouraged by the fact that the Dialogue between Pristina and Belgrade has been relaunched and that the EU has named Miroslav Lajčák the EUSR for the Dialogue. The sooner the normalization of relations happens, the sooner Kosovo will be able to move forward.
The EU and Kosovo paths will always be merged. The EU will remain Kosovo’s greatest supporter in these difficult times and beyond. I will do all in my power to help Kosovo move forward in various aspects of life important for the people. In this, I ask for your support and help.
With gratitude for this opportunity,