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News 25 Jan 17

Kosovo to Fill Vacant EU Integration Minister's Post

The Kosovo government is expected to appoint a new Minister for European Integration within a week, after the position remained empty since September 2016. 

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The Chief of European Union Office in Pristina, Natalya Apostolova with the speaker of Kosovo Parliament, Kadri Veseli at a joint press conferece, on Wednesday | Photo: BIRN

The speaker of Kosovo Parliament, Kadri Veseli, met EU ambassadors and the head of the European Union Office in Pristina, Natalya Apostolova, to discuss main points in parliament's work in 2017.

After the meeting, Apostolova reported that Veseli, leader of the biggest party of the ruling coalition, the Democratic Party of Kosovo, PDK, had said a new European Integration Minister would soon be appointed.

Kosovo has remained 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 had not decided who to replace him with.

Concern about the empty position was expressed in a resolution submitted by the EU rapporteur for Kosovo, Ulrike Lunacek.

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]," the resolution said.

Another issue discussed during the meeting, which was closed to the media, was the financial report of Veseli's party, the PDK.

“I am very happy ... that the Speaker of Parliament announced that the financial reports of the biggest political party will be published on their webpages very soon,” Apostolova said.

Veseli meanwhile said Kosovo was continuing on its path towards European and Atlantic integration.

“We will fulfill every standard and criteria. Kosovo is not a consumer of stability any longer, but is contributing to stability”, Veseli said, stressing the importance of the country's ties with the EU.

Both Apostolova and Veseli promised that more meetings would take place, more often, with a view to deepening cooperation.

Kosovo wishes to join the EU but its hopes of candidacy are held back by continuing disputes over its independence, proclaimed unilterally from Serbia in 2008. Currently, only 23 of the 28 EU member states recognise it. An SAA - a step towards candidacy - came into force last April.

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