By Štefan Füle
At the press conference following his meeting with Hashim Thaçi, Prime Minister of Republic of Kosovo in Pristina
I hope I am not going to reveal any secret referring to our previous discussion when I said that not only I feel more and more comfortable being not only a spokesperson for the enlargement policy but also for Kosovo’s achievements in this area.
I am very pleased to be back in Pristina, I was here the last time on the 10th of September only couple of weeks ago. And yet this is another important and positive moment for Kosovo.
You have achieved a lot this year: start of the visa liberalisation dialogue in January and of the rule of law dialogue in May, and progress towards participation in European Union programmes. Now we are no longer only talking but starting to adopt very important decisions.
Now, we have presented the feasibility study for a Stabilisation and Association Agreement between the EU and Kosovo.
This paves the way towards the Stabilisation and Association Agreement binding the European Union and Kosovo together. We have put Kosovo clearly in the mainstream of the relations between the Western Balkans and the European Union. This is a major step forwards for Kosovo on its chosen path to the European Union.
The study confirms there is no legal obstacle to conclude a Stabilisation and Association Agreement between Kosovo and the European Union, and Kosovo is largely ready to open negotiations for such an agreement.
We will present mandate to Member States as soon as Kosovo delivers on a limited number of specific deliverables: the rule of law ,public administration , protection of minorities and trade capacities
If you maintain strong consensus and you work hard, I believe that you can be ready to open the negotiations in the first half of the next year.
We also address the situation in the north of Kosovo. This is a challenge, which we are ready to help you with. It is essential that you continue implementing in good faith all agreements reached between Belgrade and Pristina to date, it is the message I also underlined yesterday in Belgrade with my interlocutors.. We call on you to also engage constructively on the full range of issues with the facilitation of the EU. Our ultimate aim is that Kosovo and Serbia do not block their respective paths to the EU.
It is clear that to meet the obligations under a Stabilisation and Association Agreement, a lot of work lies ahead of us. We highlight in particular: the rule of law, judiciary, public administration, electoral reform and the Assembly, human and fundamental rights, protection of minorities, trade and internal market issues, and phytosanitary and veterinary issues.
The pace of Kosovo’s progress towards European integration does not depend on us, in the EU. It depends exclusively on your hard work on reforms, and equally as much on your ability to build a strong consensus within Kosovo society.”