EU-Kosovo relations are entering a new phase. We have a lot to look forward to this year.
And in Brussels we work hard to take this relationship forward. The European Parliament already gave its consent on the Stabilisation and Association Agreement. Soon the Council will adopt it I expect it to enter into force before summer.
This is not only the first contractual relation between Kosovo and the EU but its implementation will re-enforce the much needed reforms that are crucial for the future of your country.
At the same time we have the visa liberalisation. The Commission issued its finals report in December and there remain only a handful of outstanding benchmarks. It is important that Kosovo meets all the requirements the soonest possible.
And last but not least we have the dialogue and its implementation. I know that it is not easy but let us not forget: It is about the future of your country and Kosovo’s European path.
While all these crucial developments are happening, we are all too often confronted with images of violence within the Kosovo assembly and in the streets. This is not the image of your country you would like to project.
The government together with the opposition have a collective responsibility to work hard to change this image. To make things better by offering a positive perspective for the people of Kosovo, especially the younger generation. To create the conditions for a prosperous future, turning brain drain to brain circulation.
The protracted political stand-off is holding you back, and is not favourable for your strategic objectives of visa liberalisation and the EU reform agenda.
Political divisions can only be addressed through dialogue. In the EU we throw arguments at each other, not tear gas. A healthy democracy needs constructive debate and cooperation of ALL political forces.
So for the sake of your country and its people I would like to ask the opposition to renounce violence and engage in a constructive manner in the debates in the Kosovo Assembly.