News 19 Jul 13

Fule Warns Kosovo of 'Difficult' SAA Talks

Stefan Fule, EU Enlargement Commissioner, said SAA negotiations with Kosovo could finish by spring 2014, but will involve raising 'difficult' issues.

Edona Peci

“I’m optimistic that we will make good progress and even finish our negotiations by next spring,” Fule said of talks on a stability deal during his visit to Pristina.

After meeting Hashim Thaci, the Kosovo Prime Minister, Fule said the Commission was preparing a draft agreement that it will start negotiating with Kosovo after summer.

Fule described the start to negotiations on a Stabilization and Association Agreement as “a well-deserved reward” for Kosovo - but warned that there would be “difficult issues to be opened during the negotiations.

“There will be some difficult issues to discuss and find an agreement on, but I have no doubt that together and, with determination, we will make it work”, he said.

The Council of the European Union authorized the Commission to open negotiations on signing an SAA with Kosovo on June 28.

Kosovo remains the only country in the region whose citizens are not able to travel visa-free to European countries.

Some members of the EU have raised concerns about the number of asylum seekers coming from Kosovo, but Fule said this trend could only be addressed in cooperation with the authorities in Pristina.

Fule said he very much hoped that concerns about asylum seekers “will not have any negative implication on this very important and ambitious project”.

The Commissioner also stressed the need for full implementation of the April 19 EU-brokered deal between Kosovo and Serbia.

The historic deal aims to normalise relations between both sides and so aid both in their integration into the European Union.

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