My message to Kosovo leaders: recognise the importance of the moment
14/09/2017 - 16:30
Voices and views
Address to media in Pristina by Angelina Eichhorst, EEAS Deputy Managing Director/Director for Western Europe, Western Balkans and Turkey
Hello everyone. Thank you for coming. I am happy to be in Kosovo again, where I always feel a true European spirit. The feeling is mutual.
Just yesterday, the European Commission President Juncker sent a positive signal for all of the Western Balkans. His State of the Union address reconfirms and strengthens the EU's unequivocal support for their enlargement perspective. The EU door is open to further accession once the partners concerned have met the criteria. The EU of the future will have more than 27 Member States.
The EU will continue and strengthen its engagement with all partners in the Western Balkans.
As highlighted by the President, progress can only be achieved if the enlargement countries concentrate all their efforts and give utmost priority to the necessary reforms, in particular rule of law, justice, and fundamental rights.
Mymessage to the Kosovo leaders today is: please recognise the importance of the moment, think strategically and seize the opportunity to make important advances to get closer to the EU as soon as possible. This is good for Kosovo people, and it is good for the EU.
For a start, ratify the IPA 2016 financing agreement urgently. This is 70.5 million euro of support by the EU people to the Kosovo people, so that there can be more jobs, better infrastructure, reformed education, stronger rule of law in Kosovo.
Meet the remaining visa liberalisation criteria: ratify the border demarcation agreement and strengthen the track record in the fight against corruption and organised crime. Show that you are able to offer solutions, nurture good neighbourly relations and be a credible partner. This will open door for investment and develop Kosovo economy. It will enable Kosovo people to feel full part of the European family. Please do it for them.
Implement the SAA. The SAA is not about ticking a box to please the EU. It is about making a change for the better in Kosovo. By implementing the SAA, the living standards of Kosovo people will improve significantly. They will have more certainty, which means more investment and more jobs. The people will have a better protection before the law, and a better chance to seek and find jobs based on merit, in a transparent way.
And finally, commit with your heart and mind to the Dialogue with Belgrade. It is good for Kosovo. It will enable Kosovo to resolve open issues with Serbia. It will make Kosovo stronger.
The Dialogue is about free exchanges and contacts between officials, neighbours, citizens and communities. It is about re-building trust, through concrete action, with long lasting benefits for the region at large.
The Dialogue serves the interests of both Kosovo and Serbia. Through normalisation, Kosovo and Serbia contribute to improving their own security and stability, and progress, as well as security, stability and progress in the region as a whole.
For Kosovo, the Dialogue is making Kosovo's institutional set-up stronger, because through the Dialogue, Kosovo’s Rule of Law institutions such as police, customs and the judiciary, can fulfil their role through the entire territory of Kosovo. It is because of the Dialogue that Kosovo has access to all civil registry books; it can participate in regional fora; trade flows without hindrance; customs revenues are collected; the border/boundary is controlled through the establishment of the IBM (integrated border management) posts; justice and policing are delivered Kosovo wide; a dial code is allocated by the International Telecommunications Union to Kosovo; citizens can benefit from freedom of movement.