European parliamentarians hail Belgrade-Pristina dialogue
MEPs voiced support for Kosovo's "European perspective", and welcomed its recent dialogue with Serbia, in a Foreign Affairs Committee meeting with Kosovo's President Atifete Jahjaga on Tuesday. However, they also aired concerns about tensions on Kosovo's borders with Serbia.
Parliament's strong support for Ms Jahjaga's work was stressed, at the start of the meeting, by chair of the Delegation for relations with South-East Europe Eduard Kukan (EPP, SK). However, Mr Kukan also said MEPs were very concerned about recent incidents between the Serbian community and Kosovo police on the borders with Serbia. He reiterated the need for Kosovo to meet benchmarks, and especially for the integration of returnees, as a precondition for visa liberalisation for Kosovar citizens.
Rule of law throughout Kosovo
Ms Jahjaga said that there was no alternative to establishing the rule of law and implementing the constitution throughout in the territory of the Republic of Kosovo. She welcomed EU rule of law mission EULEX's response to the torching of a border post at the end of July.
"Kosovo is one", and any action that might eventually lead to any partition of Kosovo "is and will always be unacceptable", she said, adding that the Serbian community was a "hostage of illegal and parallel structures in the north" of Kosovo.
Serbia and Kosovo should support one another
Ms Jahjaga said that relations between Kosovo and EU were stagnating, and urged that it was time now to "turn the European perspective into a European reality".
Ms Jahjaga said she fully supported dialogue between Kosovo and Serbia. "We have to shape our future, and it is towards the European Union", she stressed, adding that. Serbia and Kosovo should support each other in this process.
There is support in Parliament for Kosovo to join the EU, said rapporteur on Kosovo Ulrike Lunacek (Greens, AT), adding that it was understandable that the Kosovo government had taken legitimate action in the northern part of the country.
Doris Pack (EPP, DE), observed that the five EU Member States that had not yet recognized Kosovo's independence, "had their own problems" and were "comparing things which are not comparable". In her reply, Ms Jahjaga admitted that the lack of recognitions was a "real obstacle", but underlined that 81 countries had already recognised Kosovo.
Hannes Swoboda (S&D, AT), underlined that the missing recognitions could be brought about only, if Kosovo and Serbia could solve their problems by dialogue. He referred to Austria's role in Italy's South Tyrol, as a potential example of a way to represent Serbia's justified interests in an organised way. There is a broad support in Parliament for visa liberalisation, he added.
Rapporteur on Serbia Jelko Kacin (ALDE, SL), said recent dialogue between Pristina and Belgrade had helped Serbia to achieve EU candidate country status. He said only the regional approach could bring stability and prosperity for Western Balkan countries. Mr Kacin believed Kosovo was part of the solution, and not that of the problem, in the region.
In the chair: Eduard Kukan (EPP, SK)