EWB Interview: Teuta Sahatqija, Chairwoman of Committee for European Integration of the Assembly of Republic of Kosovo

This time, European Western Balkans, spoke with Teuta Sahatqija (@TeutaSahatqija), Member of the Assembly of Republic of Kosovo. She graduated Electrical Engineering from the University of Pristina as one of the best students. In the period 2008-2010. Ms. Sahatqija was president of the Reformist Party ORA, while in 2010 was elected Deputy President of the LDK. Ms. Sahatqija is also Vice President of LDK Group in the Assembly and Chairwoman of Committee for European Integration. European Western Balkans meet Ms. Sahatqija in Belgrade, on 10th Conference of the European Integration/Affairs Committees of States Participating in the Stabilisation and Association Process of the South-East Europe (COSAP), when we made this short interview.

European Western Balkans: Thank you Ms. Sahatqija to find time for us. Can you tell us at the beginning what is your personal opinion about the European Union and the importance of integration of Kosovo into the EU? What are biggest issues of Republic of Kosovo on European path?

Teuta Sahatqija: When European Union is mention, first thing that cross my mind is unification of  values, of economy, of laws,  free movement. For us in Kosovo, integration is important more as the process itself. Through this process we make our laws more compatible, our borders more secure, our economy more competitive, our education more valuable, rule of law stronger and more trust full. During that process Kosovo will be prepared to enter to  this big family as valuable member that can contribute and not lack behind. That’s why integration for Kosovo is important. For EU is important to have full geography inside the Union sharing same value and perspective. The  development as crisis in Ukraine, ISIS showed that unification of the same values became even more important for EU.

Beside the need of enforced economic development, effective rule of law, big issue on European path of Kosovo is non recognition from five EU states, that makes our path more “thorny” and difficult than other states that  in the same way as Kosovo emerged from dissolution of Yugoslavia.

EWB: The role of the Committee for European Integration in the coordination of harmonization of Kosovar legislation with the EU legislation has a role. Can you explain in what ways the Committee contributes to the integration?

TS: Committee on European Integration of the Assembly of Republic of Kosovo is one of 4 committees of our parliament, beside Budget, Legislation and Communities Committee. Every law that  comes to the Assembly must go through these committees . Our committee checks whether certain law is compatible with Acqui and European practices. We call to hearing and reporting  to committee all Ministers regarding EU integration.  Recently we had EU Integration Minister, Interior Affairs Minister and EU Special Representative in Kosovo, Mr. Samuel Žbogar. Other role of committee is oversight of the laws which represents the important part of our work. Two working groups  are now active  in oversight of 2 laws: Law against trafficking of  human beings and the Law on illegally profited property. Oversight of IPA funds is becoming important part of activities of our committee.  Following the work as well as taking part in activities of Council of Europe, European Parliament  and other EU institutions  is definitely usual part of our work. Our committee is keeping vivid cooperation with other EU Integration committees in the region and further. All these above mention activities certainly contributes to integration  path of Kosovo.

EWB: What is your relationship as Committee with Ministry of European Integration, and your personally to Mr. Çollaku?

TS: Committee on EU Integration has close and daily cooperation with Ministry of European Integration. We work together each form own angle to complement each others work. Personally I think that Mr. Çollaku is very competent and knowledgeable person ready for cooperation.  He is definitely doing good job for process of integration of Kosovo in EU.

EWB: How the adoption of European standards, regardless of the integration of Kosovo into the EU, is important for the citizens of your state?

TS: Having stronger economy, rule of law in place, better infrastructure etc definitely are important for citizen of my country, since these measures helps them have better life, regardless integration itself.

assembly of kosovo
Plenary session of the Assembly of Republic of Kosovo

 

EWB: How do you assess the situation that has rocked the region, and concerns an asylum seekers for Kosovo?

TS: I think that report from Ms. Ulrike Lunacek adopted some days ago described pretty accurately this situation. Kosovo has youngest population. A lot  of them highly educated, a lot of them speaks 4, 5, 6, 7 languages (speaking 4, 5 languages is not something unusual, I speak 6). Penetration of internet is the best in the region. Kosovo has biggest percentage of people that have internationally recognized qualification for IT, Networking of highest technologies. Every day  high tech IT companies are coming to Kosovo for doing business in USA, Britain etc. The irony is that  these young talented people can see Europe only in internet and television! The lack of market that can absorb these people and the feeling of being “locked in” – as Ms. Lunacek  said, caused a part of massive migration. There are also other reasons but feeling of being in the only country from where you can not move freely is not good feeling. I have to mention that even  Members of Parliament with Diplomatic passport are getting Shengen visas for official visit for only 3 days! So irregular migration and seeking asylum was the only way to move forward, unfortunately.

EWB: National Assembly of Republic of Serbia and Sobranje of Republic of Macedonia have already developed a relationship with the European Parliament. Do you have consultations with your colleagues from other parliaments in the process of enlargement? If you do, which are areas in which you cooperate?

TS: Kosovo is handicapped in relation with other neighbours regarding relationships with EU institutions as well as other regional organizations. We started to take part in activities of Council of Europe as observers. We participate also in many activities as different committees, lately a group of women from our Parliament were invited to activities. But five non recognizer EU states and obstacles from Serbia to make difficult our membership are making Kosovo’s position more difficult. – But five EU countries that haven’t recognized Kosovo and obstacles from Serbia are making Kosovo’s position and path to full membership more difficult.

EWB: Do you think that, in addition to the harmonization of the laws and policies with the EU, should be lead to changes in the ratio of deputies to their responsibilities? In which direction these changes should be directed?

TS: I do not understand “change in ratio of deputies to their responsibilities…”

EWB: Again thank you Ms. Sahatqija for your time. European Western Balkans wishes you very best in process of integration of Kosovo into European Union.

TS: Thank you for your kind words, I believe that when the  countries in our neighborhood the strive toward EU integration should be more open and helpful toward others  because there will not be any proper individual integration without integration of all region.

Authors: Nikola S. Ristić and N. T. Štiplija