Kosovo Deputy Foreign Minister Petrit Selimi told SETimes that Kosovo's council membership is a victory for Kosovo for political reasons and practical benefits.
By Linda Karadaku and Drazen Remikovic for Southeast European Times in Pristina and Sarajevo -- 11/03/13
The Regional Co-operation Council board met in Sarajevo on February 28th. [RCC]
Kosovo's full membership in the Regional Co-operation Council will boost the country's relations with its neighbours, as well as increase development in the country, officials said.
The council, which was launched in February 2008 after the dissolution of the Stability Pact for Southeast Europe, is a framework of regional co-operation that includes forums and initiatives.
Kosovo's membership into the council "will be a real [catalyst for] economic and social development, infrastructure and energy, justice and internal affairs, co-operation on security, building up human resources and inter-parliamentarian cooperation," Kosovo Foreign Minister Enver Hoxhaj said.
Hoxhaj said the council is the main pre-accession instrument to the EU.
"The [council] will support a number of social and economic initiatives in Kosovo which intend to facilitate investments, development of enterprises, small and medium businesses, liberalisation of the market, improvement of publi health, social dialogue and reforms of the official practices of employment," Hoxhaj added.
Deputy Foreign Minister Petrit Selimi told SETimes Kosovo was represented in the council by UNMIK prior to last month after resistance from some states on Kosovo's full membership.
The Regional Co-operation Council board of directors met in Sarajevo on February 28th and unanamously voted to amend the statute and the list of participants of the organisation, reflecting the results of the EU-mediated dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina.
Goran Svilanovic, the council's secretary-general, said that the participation of Kosovo in the council is a confirmation of the organisation's full dedication to ensuring all-inclusiveness in its activities.
"It shows that the region is able to take responsibility for its own future and create conditions for overall progress in the spirit of tolerance and co-operation," Svilanovic told SETimes.
One of the states that have been opposing Kosovo's membership into the council was Serbia, which does not recognise Kosovo independence.
"In the meeting in which it was decided to grant Kosovo full membership, the tones [by Serbia] were reconciliatory and not problematic. The delays of the last months were also caused by some other states which had reserves to accept Kosovo as equal on the board, but these dilemmas were solved in an inclusive way and in a good working atmosphere," Selimi told SETimes.
BiH Minister of Foreign Affairs Zlatko Lagumdzija said the council is a very significant regional initiative.
"Security and development are still two crucial motives for the establishment of regional co-operation and integration. All countries in the region are clearly and unambiguously dedicated to the implementation of all necessary reforms on the path towards the European Union," Lagumdzija told SETimes.
Correspondent Igor Jovanovic in Belgrade contributed to this report.