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News 09 Apr 15

Croatia and Kosovo Sign Partnership Agreement

The Croatian and Kosovo foreign ministers met in Zagreb on Wednesday and signed a European partnership agreement, designed to help Kosovo reform its institutions.

Sven Milekic
BIRN
Zagreb
Hashim Thaci (left) and Vesna Pusic (right) signing the European partnership agreement. Photo: Flickr

Croatian Foreign Minister Vesna Pusic hosted her Kosovo counterpart, Hashim Thaci, in Zagreb on Wednesday, when the two of them signed a European partnership agreement.

“We have signed a major European partnership agreement that formalizes the framework of our cooperation in the reform of the institutions of Kosovo, according to the European standards,” Pusic stated, adding that Croatia was already informally helping to do this through seminars held in Kosovo.

The Croatian minister characterized relations between the two states as good, but said that economic cooperation needed to improve.

“We believe our companies have the know-how and experience, primarily in infrastructural and information technology projects, such as the digitization of Radio and Television of Kosovo,” Pusic remarked.

She also announced an agreement on avoiding double taxation between the two countries, which will help companies do business.

Pusic mentioned that both ministers had discussed the status of the small Croat minority in Kosovo, and she greeted the recent improvement of relations between Serbia and Kosovo.

Thaci said the partnership agreement would help with the transfer of knowledge and experience from Croatia as Kosovo embarked on the process of trying to join the EU.

Kosovo would work on improving conditions for Croatian companies willing to invest in Kosovo, he said - and on improving conditions for ethnic Croats in the country.

“Kosovo is working to improve the rights of all minorities and we will soon make changes to the constitution, to put the Croatian minority into institutions, primarily in parliament and the executive,” he stated.

Croatia and Kosovo have long had cordial relations and Croatia was among the first countries to recognize Kosovo's declaration of independence from Serbia in 2008.

Exchanges of goods between two countries increased by 25 per cent over the last three years, and Croatian exports to Kosovo are rising.

However, Croatia exports much more to Kosovo than the other way around. It has a 67 million euro annual surplus in trade with Kosovo.

The Croatian Chamber of Economy, HGK, says 120 Croatian companies are currently operating in Kosovo.

Kosovo is home to an ancient but tiny ethnic Croat community concentrated in the village of Jenjevo, about 20 kilometres from Pristina, where about 300 Croats still live.

Some 70 others live in and around the village of Letnica in south-eastern Kosovo, on the border with Macedonia.

The number of Albanians in Croatia is much larger. According to 2011 census, 17,513 Albanians live in Croatia, mostly from Kosovo and Macedonia.

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