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Officials from Kosovo and the European Union met in Pristina to discuss developments over the past year in the areas of Justice, Freedom and Security. The discussion was held in the framework of the Stabilisation and Association Agreement (SAA), which entered into force in April 2016. During the two-day meeting, officials exchanged views on various areas related to rule of law, human rights and home affairs. In all areas, the European Union and Kosovo agreed on the importance of implementing the priorities included in the European Reform Agenda and the recommendations from the Commission’s 2019 Kosovo Report.
Regarding human rights and fundamental freedoms, the Ombudsperson outlined the general situation in Kosovo, and representatives discussed the coordination of existing human rights mechanisms, data protection and access to public documents, freedom of expression, domestic violence and property rights.
The situation of minority communities was also discussed, including the implementation of the law on the use of languages, the functioning of the Office for Community Affairs and the Consultative Council for Communities and the integration of Roma and Ashkali communities.
Both parties also discussed the need for transitional justice, dealing with the past and clarifying the whereabouts of missing persons from the conflict.
Kosovo authorities updated the EU on their reform efforts, including the “Justice 2020” initiative and the “Functional Review of the Rule of Law Sector”. Both sides also discussed the further roll-out of the electronic case management system and the centralised criminal record registry.
Regarding anti-corruption, a number of legislative developments were discussed. The EU welcomed the adoption of the new Criminal Code. Both sides agreed that a full implementation of all new rule of law-related legislation will be crucial. The EU called on Kosovo authorities to continue work on and approve the revised Criminal Procedure Code as well as further anti-corruption related legislation. The EU stressed that the draft law on political party financing needs to be in line with the recommendations of the Venice Commission.
In the area of home affairs and the fight against organised crime, views were exchanged on migration, asylum and readmission, police reform, the fight against narcotics and terrorism and the prevention of radicalisation. Both sides agreed full implementation of all strategies in these areas is crucial. The EU commended progress in the areas of migration, asylum and the fight against terrorism. The parties discussed the importance of international police cooperation. Kosovo authorities underlined the importance of signing the working arrangements with Europol. The parties further discussed the need to strengthen efforts and capacities to tackling crime, in particular cybercrime, drugs and organised crime, including through increased number of final confiscations.
Aspects related to visa liberalisation were also discussed. The Commission confirmed its assessment of July 2018, stating that Kosovo has fulfilled all visa liberalisation benchmarks. In March 2019, the European Parliament supported the Commission’s proposal for visa liberalisation in its first reading. The proposal is pending in the Council.
The time between the meetings allows for the implementation of the recommendations and agreed follow-up actions. The conclusions of the meetings will be public and available here and http://www.mei-ks.net.