Kosovo officials are asking the EU to be more involved with the country’s European process.
By Linda Karadaku for Southeast European Times in Pristina -- 28/05/12
The Kosovo government is expressing disappointment with the slow pace of the visa liberalisation and EU integration processes. Prime Minister Hashim Thaci said the delays are not justified. "Even the non-recognition from five EU countries is not a justification for [Brussels] not to take a responsible commitment, in accordance with the European interests … towards the Republic of Kosovo."
"Since its independence, Kosovo has worked unilaterally to get closer to the EU, [but] the EU has acted with slow steps," Thaci complained, and pointed out that "Kosovo does not ask for privileged treatment, or an accelerated process. We only ask for an equal treatment as with all Western Balkan countries."
Samuel Zbogar, the head of the EU office in Kosovo, told SETimes that the EU invested much in helping Kosovo join the Union through funding and political advice. He added that, through the years, the EU has been the biggest donor per capita, helping Kosovo build schools, roads and other infrastructure, giving advice on necessary reforms, and helping draft legislation.
"The European agenda for Kosovo has grown immensely within the last year; we now have visa liberalisation, a feasibility study, participation in EU programmes, a trade agreement and EBRD membership on the agenda. Topping this, we have the dialogue facilitated by the EU that has so far produced seven substantive agreements," Maja Kocijancic, the EU spokeswoman, told SETimes.
She further detailed that "We have a reinforced EU office in Pristina, as well as the EULEX mission. In other words, EU-Kosovo relations have never been so strong and dynamic. However, European integration is a two-way process. It is a process in which objective benchmarks need to be met and everyone moves forward based on its own merits. We encourage the authorities to continue with the efforts."
Kosovo Minister for Integration Vlora Citaku made a request of her own. "We ask the EU to be more present and more concrete towards Kosovo, and embrace the opinion of most EU member states in the Kosovo integration process," she told SETimes.
"I cannot say that Kosovo is ready to enter the EU, but we are ready to receive guidance for visa liberalisation and start negotiations to sign the stabilisation and association agreement," Citaku said.