BRUSSELS / PRISTINA – The European Union-Kosovo Stabilisation and Association Parliamentary Committee (SAPC) held its first meeting in Pristina (Kosovo) on the 16 and 17 May 2016. This committee was established following the entry into force of the stability and association agreement (SAA) with Kosovo on 1 April. It is in charge of considering all aspects of relations between the EU and Kosovo and especially the implementation of the SAA.
The delegation from the Socialists and Democrats Group was composed of Tonino Picula (HR) as chair of the delegation for relations with Kosovo and chair of the SAPC, S&D vice-president Tanja Fajon (SI), and Julie Ward (UK).
The delegation met Kosovan president Hashim Thaçi, prime minister Isa Mustafa, deputy prime minister Branimir Stojanović, and minister for EU integration Bekim Çollaku. The delegation also held meetings with representatives from NGOs and civil society.
European Union commissioner for enlargement negotiations and neighbourhood policy, Johannes Hahn, also attended the SAPC meeting.
Following these meetings, S&D MEP Tonino Picula stated:
“The S&D Group sees its relations with Kosovo as of the upmost importance. The two-day meeting of the EU-Kosovo parliamentary committee was the first official event between Kosovo and the European Parliament under the new stability and association agreement. The meeting was the occasion for an open and frank discussion on subjects of common interest such as: the state of play in EU-Kosovo relations; political dialogue and regional co-operation including the EU-facilitated dialogue between Kosovo and Serbia; the economic situation; the fight against corruption; anti-radicalisation; and the protection of human rights.
“The reforms to which Kosovo has committed itself are crucial for implementing the EU-Kosovo stabilisation and association agreement, which paves the way for the integration of Kosovo into the EU. In this context it is now crucial that concrete steps are taken to give a new impetus to political dialogue, the fight against high-level corruption and organised crime, the independence of the judiciary and real freedom for the press and media.”
S&D MEP and vice-president Tanja Fajon said:
“The S&D Group welcomes the EU Commission’s proposal to liberalise the visa regime for Kosovo. This is the result of the progress made by the Kosovan authorities in the reform process. Visa liberalisation will facilitate people-to-people contacts and remedy the sense of discrimination and isolation felt by many Kosovan citizens, and it will also strengthen cultural and business ties between Kosovo and the EU. The S&D Group will now work assiduously for a swift green light from the Council and the European Parliament, and for a quick implementation of this decision.
“The right to visa-free travel with no charges also comes with commitments. It is important that the authorities ratify the border demarcation with Montenegro, strengthen their track record on organised crime and corruption, and continue with information campaigns about its implications for Kosovans.
“Finally I welcome President Thaçi’s participation in the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia march in Pristina today as a clear commitment from the Kosovan authorities that they will continue working to end discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity.”