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News 02 Nov 15

Kosovo Parliament Ratifies EU Association Agreement

MPs voted in favour of the Stabilisation and Association Agreement with the European Union - seen as a first step towards membership - although opposition parties boycotted the vote. 

Petrit Collaku
BIRN
Pristina
Kosovo’s parliament ratified the Stabilisation and Association Agreement.

Kosovo’s parliament ratified the Stabilisation and Association Agreement (SAA) on Monday with 86 of the legislature’s 120 MPs voting in favour.

Prime Minister Isa Mustafa said the SAA would contribute to further strengthening the country’s rule of law as well as its economy.

“Now we will deal with a trade market which has a population of more than 500 million inhabitants,” Mustafa said.

Kosovo’s Minister for European Integration, Bekim Collaku, said that ratification of the SAA marked the first milestone on country’s path towards European integration.

He said that Kosovo’s government and other institutions was ready to take responsibility for further reforms required for EU membership.

“[The SAA] is not a gift from the EU but it [will involve] a real evaluation for Kosovo,” said Collaku.

Glauk Konjufca, an MP from the opposition Vetevendosje (Self-Determination Movement) party said the three main opposition parties boycotted the vote because they regard the SAA as the EU’s payback for reaching an agreement with Serbia in Brussels-mediated talks.

“Its basic condition is under the framework of agreements with Serbia. This means that Kosovo’s road towards European integration passes through Belgrade,” said Konjufca.

But the opposition parties - who are involved in an ongoing boycott of parliament over the deal with Serbia and have set off tear gas in the chamber several times recently - agreed not to obstruct the SAA’s ratification by MPs.

The SAA was signed on October 27 in Strasbourg. Its benefits for Kosovo will mainly be in the field of trade as Kosovo’s exports will now enjoy better access to the European market.

The EU proposed SAA negotiations with Kosovo after Pristina signed a major agreement on the normalisation of relations with Belgrade in 2012.

Kosovo was the only country in the region that had not signed an SAA with the EU.

The EU's procedure with Kosovo was different in order to avoid problems with the five EU member states that do not recognise Kosovo's independence.

The agreement was signed by the EU as a single entity and not individually with the respective states.

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