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news 11 Jan 17

Kosovo Pressed to Choose European Integration Minister

Kosovo’s government remains without a European integration minister because the ruling coalition has yet not proposed anyone, causing the European Parliament to voice its concern.

Die Morina
BIRN
Pristina
The Kosovo government building. Photo: Kallxo.com/BIRN.

Kosovo has now been without a Minister of European Integration since September 2016 when the former incumbent, Bekim Collaku, resigned to join the president’s office, and the ruling coalition has still not decided who should be appointed to replace him.

Faton Avdullahu, an adviser of Kosovo Prime Minister Isa Mustafa, told BIRN on Tuesday that the premier was waiting for a proposal from Kosovo Democratic Party, PDK.

“When the respective party from the ruling coalition proposes a candidate for this post, PM Mustafa will check over that proposal and will decide on this,” Avdullahu said.

PDK officials said they could not comment on whether they had discussed any name so far.

“I cannot comment on this at all,” the secretary of the PDK, Basri Musmurati, told BIRN.

A draft resolution by the EU rapporteur for Kosovo, Ulrike Lunacek, expressing concern about empty position in the Kosovo government, was debated by the European Parliament on Monday.

“[The European Parliament] notes with concern that the post of Minister of European Integration still remains vacant and that this undermines the coherence and effectiveness of SAA (Stabilization and Association Agreement) implementation policies; underlines that the path towards EU integration requires a strategic long-term vision and sustained commitment in the adoption and implementation of the necessary reforms,” the resolution says.

In April last year, the Kosovo government announced that the long-awaited Stabilization and Association Agreement with the EU had officially come into force, calling it “good news and an important step forward towards Kosovo’s European future”.

The European Commission said that visa requirements for Kosovo citizens should be eased but Pristina must step up its fight against organised crime and corruption and ratify a controversial border deal with Montenegro.

Four months later, Minister of European Integration Bekim Collaku resigned, giving his reason as an overwhelming “dose of disappointment due to European Union delays” in the country’s visa liberalisation process.

“I cannot just sit and wait until the European Union and the Kosovo Assembly make steps forward,” he said at the time.

Lunacek’s resolution on Monday this week again urged Kosovo to solve the demarcation issue with Montenegro and deal with high-level corruption cases in order to be granted visa liberalisation.

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