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News 27 Oct 15

EU and Kosovo Leaders Hail Signing of SAA

EU and Kosovo leaders hailed the signing on Tuesday of a Stabilisation and Association Agreement - seen as a milestone on the country's path towards European integration.

Petrit Collaku
BIRN
Pristina

Kosovo signed its first contractual agreement with the EU on Tuesday in Strasbourg.

The Stabilisation and Association Agreement, SAA, was signed on behalf of Kosovo by Prime Minister Isa Mustafa and on behalf of the EU by Federica Mogherini, High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy.

The agreement was also signed by Kosovo’s European Integration minister, Bekim Collaku, and by the EU Enlargement Commissioner, Johannes Hahn.

Mustafa said the agreement set a stamp on the country’s path towards EU membership and offered possibilities for reform in all sectors of society.

“It’s a road towards strengthening democracy, political stability and economic perspectives,” Mustafa's press release read.

He said the SAA also marked the end of Kosovo's transition towards a functioning economy  and would strengthen peace and stability in the region.

Mogherini stated that both parties had worked hard to achieve the agreement and she hoped its effects would be seen soon.

“After this there will be a lot of benefits for Kosovo’s people and the European Union for stability and integration in the region. It’s a good moment,” Mogherini's press release reads.

Hahn praised the agreement and Kosovo's further aspirations towards EU integration.

“I am looking forward to being in Kosovo next week and finalise what we agreed today and see the possibilities of how to implement this, because now it’s time for implementation,” Hahn said.

The benefits of the SAA 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 it signed a major agreement on the normalisation of relations with Serbia 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.

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

The first SAA talks with the European Commission opened on October 2013 in Pristina after which Kosovo began the process of reforming its legislation to meet Brussels’ standards.

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