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News 05 Feb 16

Kosovo Welcomes European Parliament Resolution

As the European Parliament approved a resolution on Kosovo’s progress toward EU integration, the Parliament's Vice-President, Ulrike Lunacek, urged all member states to recognize it.

Besa Maliqi
BIRN
Pristina
The Vice-President of the European Parliament Ulrike Lunacek said Kosovo deserves visa liberalisation | Photo courtesy: European Parliament

The European Parliament on Thursday backed a resolution on Kosovo by 403 votes for to 130 against and 104 abstentions.

The resolution expresses concern over corruption and organised crime and calls for action on drafting a long-promised statute of an Association of Serbian Municipalities.

At the same time, it welcomes progress achieved in the EU-led dialogue with Serbia in 2015, and calls on all sides to implement already reached agreements in good faith.

After the vote, the Vice-President of the Parliament, Ulrike Lunacek, who drafted the resolution, said the vote sent another positive signal to Kosovo about its EU perspectives, following the EU-Kosovo Stabilization and Association Agreement, SAA.

“Continuing the momentum to this end is crucial to ensuring the independent Kosovan state progresses further with reforms on the rule of law and the economy,” Lunacek said.

During the session, referring to recent violent opposition protests, MEPs urged Kosovo to resolve its domestic crisis and return to constructive political dialogue in a non-violent way.

Discussions were held also yesterday in the European Parliament on the reform efforts of Kosovo over the last year and about Vice-President Lunacek’s progress report.

During yesterday’s session, Lunacek repeated calls for the five EU member states that have not recognized Kosovo to do so, hailing the “very pro-European citizenship there" and "the progress over the last years”.

She noted that Kosovo’s wider recognition as an independent state would allow it to join Europol or Interpol, which would improve the fight against corruption and organized crime.

Both issues along with a weak rule of law remain Kosovo’s Achilles heel concerning its reported progress, despite advances in negotiations with Serbia, which still claims Kosovo as part of its own territory.

Lunacek also appealed to Council of the European Union and the European Commission to give a green light to visa liberalization for Kosovo.

“Just imagine you live in a very small country [and] all citizens of countries around you can travel freely to the European Union… and you cannot, although your parents and grandparents in the Yugoslavia more than 25 years ago could do that,” Lunacek told the floor.

Bekim Collaku, Kosovo's Minister for European Integration, expressed gratitude for the vote, adding that he expected the European Commission to support visa liberalization as well.

“This resolution was a clear instruction for the recognition of the Republic of Kosovo from the five EU member states that have not yet done so, saying this would strengthen stability in the region and improve the credibility of the EU,” Collaku said.

Emrush Ujkani, a Pristina-based expert on EU Integration, said that despite this positive step towards European integration, optimism was premature.

“I don’t expect a huge impact from the adopted resolution... for the reason that the resolution of the European Parliament does not force member states to recognize Kosovo,” Ujkani told BIRN.

He said the resolution was more about coordinating policies with member states than about convincing them to recognize Kosovo.

Kosovo proclaimed its independence from Serbia in 2008. Serbia has vowed never to recognise it and is supported in this by Russia, China, five EU member states and a number of other countries.

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