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Austria supports Kosovo’s European integration

Prishtina, 25 March – Today, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Kosovo, Enver Hoxhaj, met the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Austria, Michael Spindelegger. The goal of this meeting was advancing the Republic of Kosovo’s European perspective. Minister Hoxhaj expressed his appreciation for Austria’s contribution to Kosova in the past, supporting the aspirations of its people for freedom, democracy and independence.

“In 2008 after the declaration of independence, Austria was one of the first states to recognize the Republic of Kosovo, and the negotiations at that time took place in Vienna with the participation of Mr. Ahtisaari and Mr. Albert Rohan, and as a friend of Kosovo, like other states in the Balkans, Austria has given an extremely important contribution to defining Kosovo’s political status. At the same time, Austria has been very active these years in the process of Kosovo’s state-building with a large presence in KFOR and EULEX and many other activities  in the Republic of Kosovo”, said Minister Hoxhaj. 

According to the Minister, the discussion with his Austrian counterpart focused on three issues.
“The first topic was the Republic of Austria’s strong support for the Republic of Kosovo’s European integration, and concretely the support we anticipate from the Republic of Austria for visa liberalization. In the not too distant future, Kosovo’s citizens will be able to travel visa free in Europe and the topic of discussion was how soon the Republic of Kosovo can receive the visa road-map”, said Minister Hoxhaj

The second issue discussed, according to the Minister, was the signing of various bilateral agreements between the Republic of Kosovo and the Republic of Austria, and the announcement of the forthcoming signing of economic and social security agreements, as well as agreements in the fields of agriculture and education etc.

“The third issue we discussed was our agreement on a joint agenda, which will be a shared program of cooperation between our two governments and countries. But, for us as Ministers of Foreign Affairs, it is very important to have cooperation between our two states, between our governments, municipalities, universities, cultural institutions and above all, cooperation between citizens”, said Minister Hoxhaj.

Regarding the urgent requirements Kosovo must fulfill to be a candidate for EU accession, as soon as possible, Minister Hoxhaj expressed the will of the institutions of the Republic of Kosovo to cooperate with various institutions in the European Union.

“The question of visa liberalization and EU integration are issues which depend on the political situation and activities of the Government to this end. We believe that as a state we have the right to receive the visa liberalization road-map. I cannot explain to my people why two million Kosovars do not have the right to travel freely, whereas 50 million other residents of the Balkans can”, said Minister Hoxhaj.

He expressed the conviction that this year, the European Commission would give Kosovo the visa liberalization roadmap. 
“When this is achieved, then we will fulfill all the conditions required. Very soon, we will have biometric passports and will fulfill all other necessary preconditions”, said Minister Hoxhaj.

Meanwhile, the Austrian Foreign Minister Michael Spindelegger, said that Austrians support Kosovo’s European integration and want to help them in this journey.

“On the one hand, it is important for us to hear what Kosovo wants, especially about the visa liberalization dialogue, which is a special issue.  I can tell you that we support this in principle. On this question, we have promised you that we will talk with our European partners about a visa liberalization roadmap. This is important for Kosovo and its people who want to travel freely”, said Minister Spindelegger. In addition, he said that he had spoken to Minister Hoxhaj in detail about the preconditions which must be fulfilled. 

“Another issue we discussed was economic investment in Kosovo. Regarding this, above all a future must created, closely linked to investment in Kosovo businesses creating jobs, but also creating the possibility for many young people who are unemployed in Kosovo. The other issue is the preconditions that are required for this, and this means various bilateral agreements.  We also see it as our duty to motivate Austrian businesses to invest in Kosovo. However to do this requires the fulfillment of various preconditions like reciprocal agreements and social security etc.”, said Minister Spindelegger.

In addition, he said that the two Ambassadors of their states would draft an agenda for talks between Kosovo and Austria with the specific aim of intensifying comprehensive cooperation in the future.  Spindelegger expressed his conviction that during the future years, there will be joint achievements and a positive future for Kosovo, adding that Austria is ready to contribute especially to Kosovo’s European integration.

Minister Spindelegger said that how Kosovo will benefit from talks with Serbia should be assessed bearing in mind its European integration perspective. 

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