Statement by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Behgjet Pacolli, on the European Union Enlargement StrategyPrishtina, 6 February, 2018 The good news from Brussels is that the EU is overcoming the so-called "enlargement fatigue“ and has been seriously returned to our region.
A credible perspective of EU enlargement, including the Western Balkans, is an added commitment of Brussels and member states. The re-affirmation of a European future of the Western Balkan countries, by the President Jean-Claude Juncker, opens up a new perspective, for more stability in our neighbourhood. It is an EU obligation, to maintain the credible enlargement perspective for the region. With the EU Enlargement Strategy, a historic window opens up for the Republic of Kosovo, in order to be firmly and undoubtedly connected, to the common future in the European Union. The Republic of Kosovo has been provided an opportunity for sustainable progress, through the implementation of the Stabilization and Association Agreement, although we have demanded equal treatment with other countries in the region. We thought that the "frontrunners" formulation is the unequal treatment for us. We have suggested that a clear definition of candidate status for Kosovo should have been provided, as well as a clear time frame for opening the negotiations, on the EU accession process. I strongly believe that Kosovo, just like the Western Balkan countries, can now benefit from a more advanced stability and prosperity, which will enable a clear European perspective. The thing, that should encourage us, is that the enlargement process, for the Western Balkans, is projected in the spirit of the Berlin process, which foresees the involvement of the EU itself, in the Western Balkans Transformation Support Action Plan, in the following areas: 1. Strengthening of the rule of law support, including the measuring of the reforms in the judiciary, combating corruption, supporting Member States' experts, monitoring judicial processes, supporting independent media and civil society, etc.; 2. Increasing commitment in terms of security and migration: joint commitment against terrorism and prevention of violent extremism, placing Europol liaison officers across the region, cooperation agreement with Eurojust, capacity building in the field of cyber security and cyber-crime, border management, the establishment of national border control coordination centres, cooperation in the Common Foreign Policy and Security/Common Security Policy and Defence Policy etc.; 3. Supporting socio-economic development, including the Western Balkans Investment Framework, guarantees for private investment, private sector development, increased potential of small and medium-sized enterprises, research support and innovation capacity building, facilitating trade, strengthening the program for economic reform, increasing focus on employment and social reforms, etc.; 4. Commitment to the increase of infrastructure link, participation of Western Balkan authorities and organizations in the work of the energy regulators’ network and transmission and distribution system operators; 5. Supporting the Digitalization Agenda; 6. Supporting reconciliation and good neighbourly relations.