Kosovo signs association accord with EU

Kosovo and EU signs stabilization and association agreement which may open membership ways to Balkan country

Photo by: AP
Photo by: AP

A Kosovar checks his mobile phone as he walks past EU Information and Cultural Office in Kosovo's capital Pristina, October 27, 2015

Kosovo signs a Stabilisation and Association Agreement with the European Union on Tuesday in Strasbourg, home of EU parliament.

Bekim Collaku, European Integration Minister of Kosovo said the agreement is a "new milestone because it establishes contractual relations between the Republic of Kosovo and the EU."

"We want to become members of the European family in terms of economic integration but also to share the EU values," he told AP on Monday.

Prime Minister Isa Mustafa also said on Monday that the agreement is the "start of a long road... supported and embraced by our citizens and our friends."

A stabilisation and association agreement “constitutes the framework of relations between the European Union and the Western Balkan countries for implementation of the Stabilisation and Association Process,” which is the EU’s policy towards Western Balkan’s becoming members of the union, according to the European Commission.

"The signature of the agreement will reinforce Kosovo's European perspective and also help domestic stabilisation," an EU official has told Reuters a week ago.

"Once implemented, it will bring more economic prosperity, legal certainty, government accountability and political stability to the people of Kosovo," EU Foreign Affairs spokeswoman Maja Kocijancic has earlier said on the agreement.

Talks between Kosovo and EU were concluded in July 2014 for the agreement, which is a step to the full membership for the small Balkan country with its main trader.

In 2014, 30 % of exports and 42% of imports of Kosovo were with EU countries, which makes the union the main trading actor of it with a total of 1.2 billion euros (about $1.3 billion).

With the agreement, Kosovan companies will be able to export to EU countries without customs tariffs.

The agreement came despite the country’s limited progress in key sectors. Last year’s report of the European Commission on Kosovo has said that “The rule of law in Kosovo, including judicial independence, and limited results in the fight against organised crime and corruption, remains a major concern.”

Serbia, which doesn’t recognise Kosovo’s independence from itself in 2008, will be offered concessions by the union.

"I am confident that the first two chapters with Serbia can be opened by the end of the year," a top EU official has earlier told Reuters.

There are 35 chapters to be closed, or “passed”, by a country ranging from economic liberty to environmental issues to be a full member of the EU.

Over 100 countries worldwide including most of the EU countries -23 of its 28 members-, except those who struggle with nationalistic claims within territories, recognise Kosovo’s independence.

Collaku thanked all EU countries “that have understood the only way to strengthen peace, stability and cooperation in the western Balkans is by opening the doors to the remaining western Balkans to join the EU."

Serbia, Macedonia and Montenegro are the EU candidate countries in the Balkans that were founded after the fall of Yugoslavia. Croatia, which was also a part of Yugoslavia, joined the union in 2013 as its last member.



TRTWorld and agencies