News 12 Aug 13

Kosovo Ready For ‘Ambitious’ EU Talks

A top-level team which will negotiate Kosovo’s crucial Stabilisation and Association Agreement with the EU is ready to start talks soon, officials in Pristina said.

Edona Peci
BIRN
Pristina

Prime Minister Hashim Thaci said on Monday that Kosovo was ready to begin talks about the Stabilisation and Association Agreement (SAA) with the EU “as soon as possible”.

“It’s encouraging to see an ambitious agenda for an agreement which includes the main elements of a Stabilisation and Association Agreement like for the other countries in the region, including political dialogue, the trade aspect, cooperation policies, justice, freedom and security issues and other important issues,” Thaci said.

He made his comments during the first meeting of the negotiating team for the SAA – a pre-accession pact seen as the first step towards possible EU membership. An SAA sees the aspiring country reforming its legislation in an attempt to meet EU standards.

Kosovo’s SAA negotiations with the EU will be led by European integration minister Vlora Citaku, while six other ministers (foreign affairs, justice, finance, trade, agriculture and economic development) are also part of the team.

Gezim Kasapolli, deputy minister of European integration, will deal with legislation and cooperation issues with the EU, while Bernard Nikaj, deputy minister for trade and industry, is mandated to negotiate trade issues with Brussels.

In July, EU Enlargement Commissioner Stefan Fule announced that SAA negotiations with Kosovo could finish by spring 2014, but the process will involve raising “difficult” issues.

Citaku said Kosovo was interested in starting talks about the SAA in autumn this year in order to maintain the planned pace of the process.

“Today, the ministry of European integration will present an analysis of all Stabilisation and Association Agreements [reached by other] countries in the region and, at the same time, the institutions responsible for harmonising legislation [in accordance with EU demands] will be set,” Citaku said.

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

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