European Parliament resolution on the 2016 Commission Report on Kosovo

The European Parliament adopted resolution on June 14, 2017 on the 2016 Commission Report on Kosovo.

The European Parliament,

– having regard to the Presidency conclusions of the Thessaloniki European Council
meeting of 19 and 20 June 2003 concerning the prospect of the Western Balkan
countries joining the European Union,

– having regard to the Stabilisation and Association Agreement between the EU and
Kosovo, which entered into force on 1 April 2016,

– having regard to the signing of a framework agreement with Kosovo on participation in Union programmes,

– having regard to the First Agreement of Principles Governing the Normalisation of
Relations, signed by Prime Ministers Hashim Thaçi and Ivica Dačić on 19 April 2013,
and to the Implementation Action Plan of 22 May 2013,

– having regard to Council Decision (CFSP) 2016/947 of 14 June 2016 amending Joint
Action 2008/124/CFSP on the European Union Rule of Law Mission in Kosovo
(EULEX Kosovo),

– having regard to the reports of the Secretary-General of the United Nations on the
ongoing activities of the UN Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) and
developments relating thereto, including the latest report released on 26 October 2016,
and to the Security Council debate on UNMIK held on 16 November 2016,

– having regard to the 2016 Commission Communication of 9 November 2016 on EU
Enlargement Policy (COM(2016)0715),

– having regard to the Commission’s 2016 report on Kosovo of 9 November 2016
(SWD(2016)0363),

– having regard to the Commission assessment of 18 April 2016 on the Kosovo Economic
Reform Programme 2016-2018 (SWD(2016)0134),

– having regard to the Joint Conclusions of the Economic and Financial Dialogue
between the EU and the Western Balkans and Turkey of 26 May 2016 (9500/2016),

– having regard to the European Reform Agenda launched on 11 November 2016 in
Pristina,

– having regard to the Presidency conclusions of 13 December 2016 on the enlargement
and stabilisation and association process,

– having regard to the conclusions of the General Affairs Council meetings of
7 December 2009, 14 December 2010 and 5 December 2011, which stressed and
reaffirmed, respectively, that Kosovo, without prejudice to the Member States’ position
on its status, should also benefit from the prospect of eventual visa liberalisation once
all the conditions had been met,

– having regard to the Commission proposal for a regulation on visa liberalisation for
people from Kosovo of 1 June 2016 (COM(2016)0277) and to the fourth Commission
report of 4 May 2016 on progress by Kosovo in fulfilling the requirements of the visa
liberalisation roadmap (COM(2016)0276),

– having regard to UN Security Council Resolution 1244 (1999), to the International
Court of Justice (ICJ) Advisory Opinion of 22 July 2010 on the accordance with
international law of the unilateral declaration of independence in respect of Kosovo, and
to UN General Assembly Resolution 64/298 of 9 September 2010, which acknowledged
the content of the ICJ opinion and welcomed the EU’s readiness to facilitate dialogue
between Serbia and Kosovo,

– having regard to the joint statements of the EP-Kosovo interparliamentary meetings of
28-29 May 2008, 6-7 April 2009, 22-23 June 2010, 20 May 2011, 14-15 March 2012,
30-31 October 2013 and 29-30 April 2015, to the declarations and recommendations
adopted at the first and second meetings of the EU-Kosovo Stabilisation and
Association Parliamentary Committee of 16-17 May 2016 and 23-24 November 2016
respectively, and to the first meeting of the Stabilisation and Association Council held
on 25 November 2016,

– having regard to its previous resolutions,

– having regard to Rule 52 of its Rules of Procedure,

– having regard to the report of the Committee on Foreign Affairs (A8-0062/2017),

A. whereas 114 of the 193 UN member states, including 23 of the 28 EU Member States,
recognise Kosovo’s independence;

B. whereas (potential) candidate countries are judged on their own merits, and whereas the speed and quality of the necessary reforms determines the timetable for accession;

C. whereas the EU has repeatedly reiterated its willingness to assist in the economic and
political development of Kosovo through a clear European perspective, in line with the
European perspective of the region and Kosovo has shown aspiration in its path towards
European integration;

D. whereas the EU has placed the rule of law, fundamental rights, the strengthening of
democratic institutions, including public administration reform, as well as good
neighbourly relations, economic development and competitiveness, at the core of its
enlargement policy;

E. whereas more than 90 % of Kosovars fears unemployment and more than 30 % receives between EUR 0 and 120 per month;

1. Welcomes the entry into force of the EU-Kosovo Stabilisation and Association
Agreement (SAA) on 1 April 2016 as the first contractual relationship and an essential
step in order to continue the process of the integration of Kosovo into the EU; welcomes
the launch of the European Reform Agenda on 11 November 2016 and the adoption of
the national strategy for the implementation of the SAA as a platform to facilitate
implementation of the SAA and calls on Kosovo to continue to show clear political will
and determination to implement the agreed roadmap including the setting up of the
coordination mechanism for the implementation of the SAA, and to seize the positive
momentum created by the SAA, in order to implement and institutionalise reforms and
improve the socio-economic development of Kosovo, to establish cooperation with the
EU in numerous areas, which would also further Kosovo’s trade and investment
integration, to advance relations with neighbouring countries and to contribute to
stability in the region; calls on the government of Kosovo to focus on the
implementation of the comprehensive reforms that are required to meet its obligations
under the SAA; welcomes the holding of the Second Stabilisation and Association
Parliamentary Committee on 23-24 November 2016, and the holding of the first
meeting of the EU-Kosovo Association and Stabilisation Council on 25 November
2016; notes how free, fair and transparent early general elections and municipal
elections in in the second part of 2017 are crucial for the democratic future of Kosovo
as well as for the future of its EU integration process;

2. Welcomes the overall peaceful and orderly conduct of the early general elections of 11
June 2017; regrets, nevertheless, that, due in part to the short time available, some of the
OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) recommendations of 2014 were not addressed; expresses its concern at the problems observed by EU monitors during the election campaign with regard, in particular, to the disruptive interference of some political parties in the independence of the media, both private and public, and to the threats and acts of intimidation against members and candidates of the Kosovo Serbian community in competition with the Srpska Lista; urges parties to swiftly form a government to continue Kosovo’s path towards the EU and to commit to ratifying a border demarcation agreement with Montenegro and to continuing to build up a track record of convictions for high-level corruption and organised crime with a view to paving the way for visa-free travel for Kosovan citizens;

3. Expresses concern at the persistent extreme polarisation of the political landscape; calls on all the parties to show responsibility and ownership and to create the conditions for a fruitful, solution and result-oriented dialogue with a view to defusing tension and
reaching a sustainable compromise aimed at facilitating the progress of the country on
its European path;

4. Urges the leaders of the Kosovo-Serbian community to take full ownership of their
place and role in the institutions of the country, acting independently from Belgrade and
constructively for the benefit of all the people of Kosovo, while urging Kosovo to
continue to support the access of Kosovo Serbs to Kosovo institutions; welcomes in this
regard the integration of Kosovo Serb judicial personnel, police and civil protection into
the Kosovo system; calls on Kosovo authorities to continue to build mutual trust between communities while promoting their economic integration;

5. Condemns in the strongest terms the violent disruption of activities by some members
of the opposition which occurred in the parliament of Kosovo in the first half of 2016
and welcomes the return of the opposition to participate in Assembly proceedings on
most issues, as well as the constructive involvement of all members of the joint
parliamentary delegation of the European Parliament and the Kosovo Assembly during
the last part of the outgoing legislature; stresses the importance of political dialogue, the
active and constructive participation of all political parties in the decision-making
processes and unhindered parliamentary business as essential conditions for progress in
the integration process to the EU;

6. Underlines that the path towards EU integration requires a strategic long-term vision
and sustained commitment in the adoption and implementation of the necessary
reforms;

7. Notes that five Member States have not recognised Kosovo; stresses that recognition
would be beneficial to the normalisation of relations between Kosovo and Serbia and
increase the EU’s credibility in its own external policy; takes positive note of the
constructive approach of all Member States in facilitating and strengthening the
relations between the EU and Kosovo in order to foster socio-economic development,
the rule of law and democratic consolidation for the benefit of the people of Kosovo;
encourages a positive approach with regard to Kosovo’s participation in international
organisations;

8. Welcomes the proposal by the Commission to grant visa liberalisation, which would be
a very positive step for Kosovo on the path to European integration; positively notes the
decrease of asylum requests by Kosovo citizens in both EU and Schengen Associated
countries and welcomes the introduction of the Reintegration Fund and reintegration
programmes for returned Kosovo citizens; expresses concern at the stalemate in the
outgoing Assembly with regard to the ratification of the demarcation agreement with
Montenegro, and stresses that visa liberalisation can only be granted once Kosovo has
fulfilled all criteria, including in relation to building up a track record of high-level
convictions for corruption and organised crime, which has been greatly aided by the IT
tracking mechanism for high-profile cases that Kosovo uses for high-level crimes, a
mechanism that should also be extended to other criminal cases; calls, therefore, on the
authorities to step up efforts to tackle the issues of money laundering, drug trafficking,
trafficking in human beings, the arms trade and illegal possession of weapons;

9. Considers it vital that Kosovo’s foreign and security policy should be aligned with the
EU’s Common Foreign and Security Policy;

10. Welcomes the progress made in implementing the various agreements signed since August 2016 in the normalisation process with Serbia, following months of little to no
progress; emphasises that the full implementation of the agreements is essential for
further successful evolution of the Pristina-Belgrade dialogue; calls on both Kosovo and
Serbia to show more engagement and sustained political will as regards the
normalisation of relations and to refrain from any actions that would jeopardise the
progress achieved so far in this process; recalls that this is a condition for accession to
the EU; takes note of some progress on other technical issues such as cadastres
university diplomas and licence plates and on the implementation of the agreement on
the Mitrovica Bridge; has been following developments on the Mitrovica bridge with
concern and supports the recent agreement; welcomes the allocation of an independent
international telephone code to Kosovo; reiterates its call for the European External
Action Service to carry out an evaluation on a regular basis of the performance of the
parties in fulfilling their obligations and to report its findings to the European
Parliament; stresses that the agreements reached should improve the daily life of
ordinary citizens; notes that the benefits of the dialogue are not evident to the citizens of
Kosovo and Serbia and emphasises the need for the utmost transparency in
communicating the outcomes of the dialogue, in particular in northern Kosovo; stresses
the importance of good neighbourly relations with all countries in the Western Balkans;

11. Strongly condemns the act of sending a Serbian nationalist train from Belgrade to
Northern Kosovo; expresses serious concerns about warmongering statements and anti-EU rhetoric; notes the decision of the court of Colmar (France) to refuse the extradition
to Serbia of and to release Mr Ramush Haradinaj, who was acquitted in 2008 and 2012
by the ICTY and arrested in France on 4 January 2017 on the basis of an international
arrest warrant issued by Serbia in 2004 according to its law on the Organisation and
Competences of State Authorities in War Crime Proceedings; regrets that this law has
hitherto been misused to pursue citizens of countries that belonged to the former
Yugoslavia, as proven by this recent case; urges both parties to refrain from provocative
steps and unhelpful rhetoric that could hamper the normalisation process; calls on the
EU, Kosovo and Serbia to discuss these matters in a constructive manner in the
framework of the negotiations for accession to the EU;

12. Notes that the Association of Serbian Municipalities has not yet been set up, that the
corresponding statute has not yet been drafted and that the establishment of the
association is the responsibility of the government of Kosovo; urges Kosovo to establish
the association without further delay in line with the agreement reached under the EU facilitated dialogue and with the ruling of the Kosovo Constitutional Court; encourages,
in this regard, the Kosovo authorities to appoint a high-level working group with a clear
and time-bound mandate to propose a statute for public input and parliamentary review; expresses concern at the continued presence of Serbia’s parallel structures, including through their continued financial support and calls for their dismantlement; encourages all stakeholders to find an acceptable and mutually agreeable long-term solution for the status of the Trepca mining complex;

13. Calls on the political forces to ensure that the civil liberties and security of the Serbian community and their places of worship are respected;

14. Welcomes the establishment of the Kosovo Specialist Chambers and Specialist
Prosecutor Office in The Hague as an essential step for ensuring justice and
reconciliation; underlines that witness protection is pivotal to the success of the Special
Court and thus calls on authorities to allow citizens to benefit from this system without
fear of retribution; calls on the EU and the Member States to continue to support the
Court including through proper funding; welcomes the willingness of the Netherlands to
host the Court;

15. Calls on Kosovo to address the issue of missing persons, including: guaranteeing
property rights effectively, barring the usurpation of properties and guaranteeing the
return and reintegration of displaced persons; calls on Kosovo to ensure effective
compensation for the victims of war rape as stated in the National Action Plan; notes
with concern the slow progress in investigations, prosecutions and convictions on war
crimes, including in cases of sexual violence during the 1998-1999 Kosovo war, and
urges Kosovo to intensify its efforts in this respect;

16. Regrets the fact that civil society is not regularly consulted as part of the decisionmaking process; urges the need to empower civil society further and calls for political will to be shown to engage with civil society by implementing the minimum standards for public consultation;

17. Calls on the political forces to guarantee, respect, support and intensify efforts to
improve the rule of law, including the independence of the judiciary therein, and by
making a clear distinction between the legitimate aspiration of the people of Kosovo for
freedom and justice and the actions of individuals who allegedly committed war crimes,
which must be duly prosecuted by the competent judicial authorities;

18. Notes that the Ombudsman began implementing the 2015 law on the Ombudsman with increased and improved reporting and urges adoption of related secondary legislation; calls on the assembly and government of Kosovo to ensure the financial, functional and organisational independence of the Ombudsman, in line with international standards on national human rights institutions; urges the government to follow up reports and recommendations of the Office of the Auditor General and Ombudsman;

19. Emphasises the need for the proper functioning of the Ombudsman institution, and the need to ensure that it obtains all the resources required to carry out its activities;

20. Notes that, while some progress has been achieved in adopting legislation for the proper functioning of the judiciary, the administration of justice remains slow and inefficient and is hampered by the remaining shortcomings of criminal legislation, political and economic expediency, political interference, a lack of accountability and limited financial and human resources, including in the Special Prosecution Office; encourages Kosovo to address these issues as a matter of priority in order to ensure legal certainty regarding the property rights of foreign investors; notes the efforts made by the police and the prosecutor’s office to tackle organised crime; acknowledges the efforts of the competent authorities to investigate the death in prison of Mr Astrit Dehari and urges the competent authorities to finalise the investigation;

21. Welcomes the signing of the framework agreement for Kosovo’s participation in EU
programmes and encourages the swiftest possible entry into force and proper
implementation of the agreement following the European Parliament’s approval;

22. Expresses serious concerns at the lack of progress made with regard to the protection of freedom of expression and media freedom, and at the increased political interference
and pressure and intimidation on the media; is deeply concerned by the increased
number of direct threats and attacks on journalists and the widespread self-censorship;
urges the Kosovar authorities to fully recognise and protect freedom of expression in
line with EU standards, to end impunity of attacks against journalists and bring those
responsible to justice; urges the government to guarantee the independence and the
sustainability of the public service media RTK and to introduce an adequate financing
scheme; calls for the adoption of sound legislation on copyright and to ensure
transparency of media ownership;

23. Calls on the Government of Kosovo to ensure that cases of physical attacks against
journalists and other forms of pressure are promptly investigated and to accelerate and
strengthen the adjudication of cases by the judiciary, to continue to unequivocally
condemn all attacks against journalists and media outlets, and to ensure transparency of
media outlet ownership to combat the increasing risks of undue pressures on editors and
journalists;

24. Welcomes the agreement signed by Kosovo and Serbia on 30 November 2016 on the
final steps for the implementation of the Justice Agreement, reached within the
Dialogue of 9 February 2015, which will enable the judicial institutions of the country
to become operational in the entire territory of Kosovo;

25. Stresses that systemic corruption is contrary to the fundamental EU values of
transparency and independence of the judiciary; reiterates its concern about the very
slow progress in the fight against corruption and organised crime and calls for renewed
efforts and a clear political will to tackle these issues, which hamper future significant
economic progress; regrets that corruption and organised crime go unpunished in certain areas of Kosovo, notably in the north; is concerned that the track record of
investigations, prosecutions and final convictions remains poor and that confiscation
and sequestration of criminal assets is rarely utilized despite their being an essential tool
in fighting corruption, and therefore recommends the prompt freezing of assets and an
increase in the number of final confiscations; encourages the Kosovo Anti-Corruption
Agency to take a more proactive approach in investigations; expresses concern that
political parties and campaign financing are not properly covered by regulatory
oversight; takes the view that the law on conflict of interest needs to be brought into line
with European standards and the effective removal of public officials indicted or
convicted of serious or corruption-related crimes needs to be put into practice; expresses
concerns about the lack of effective coordination between the institutions responsible
for the detection, investigation and prosecution of corruption cases; expresses serious
concerns at the involvement of criminal armed groups in cross-border criminal activities
and calls for direct and effective cooperation between Kosovo and Serbia, as well as
between all the countries in the region, in the fight against organised crime; stresses that
Kosovo’s membership of Interpol and cooperation with Europol would facilitate these
efforts;

26. Expresses concern that Kosovo continues to be a storage and transit country for hard
drugs; notes with concern the lack of secure storage for seized drugs prior to
destruction; expresses serious concerns about the low rate of convictions in cases
against human trafficking, despite Kosovo being a source, transit and destination for
trafficked women and children; notes with concern the existence of armed groups and
their involvement in organised criminal activities such as arms smuggling and the
apparent impunity with which they are able to operate across borders;

27. Calls on Kosovo to step up efforts to put an end to gender-based violence and to ensure women’s full enjoyment of rights; calls on Kosovo institutions to allocate adequate funding to the implementation of the national strategy on domestic violence, which includes international mechanisms such as the Istanbul Convention; welcomes the high level political support for the rights of LGBTI persons; welcomes the holding of the second pride parade, but reiterates that fear remains widespread in the LGBTI
community;

28. Calls on the Kosovo authorities to address gender mainstreaming as a priority and to
ensure that governing bodies and authorities lead by example; is concerned about the
structural challenges hampering the implementation of the law on gender equality, and
remains concerned about the underrepresentation of women in decision-making
positions; urges Kosovo to continuously encourage women to seek high-level positions;
expresses concern about the low levels of property ownership among women and calls
on the authorities to actively ensure that property rights for women, including
inheritance rights, are secured; welcomes the adoption of a national strategy on
domestic violence and calls for its full implementation in order to bring about progress
in combating domestic and gender-based violence; reiterates the link between sexual
violence during war and conflicts and the normalisation and high levels of gender-based
violence in post-conflict countries when these issues are not properly addressed; urges
the authorities to publicly encourage and put in place protection mechanisms and shelter measures for women who break their silence and denounce domestic violence;
encourages the work of NGOs on this issue;

29. While commending the establishment of the Inter-Ministerial Coordination Group for
Human Rights in 2016, notes that further efforts are needed to protect the rights of all
minorities in Kosovo, including Roma, Ashkali, Egyptian and Gorani communities,
through the full implementation of the relevant legislation and the allocation of
sufficient resources; calls on the competent national and local authorities to undertake
as a matter of priority all necessary legislative and practical measures to limit
discrimination and to affirm the rights of the various ethnic minorities, including
cultural, linguistic and property rights, so as to contribute to the development of a multi-ethnic society; calls on Kosovo to ensure that returning refugees, many of whom are
Roma, are fully integrated and have their rights as citizens reinstated, thus ending
statelessness; calls on Kosovo to adopt a new strategy and action plan for the integration
of Roma, Ashkali and Egyptian communities;

30. Welcomes the increased efforts to counter, prevent and combat violent extremism and radicalisation and recognises the important work carried out by Kosovo in this domain; notes that many foreign fighters have returned to Kosovo and calls on the authorities to ensure that they are monitored and prosecuted, and to establish a comprehensive approach with effective policies for prevention, de-radicalisation and, where appropriate, reintegration; calls for further identification, prevention and disruption of the flow of foreign fighters and of untraceable money intended for radicalisation; underlines the need for effective community programmes to address the grievances that fuel violent extremism and radicalisation, and to build relationships that promote tolerance and dialogue;

31. Welcomes the improvement of the economic situation and the increase of tax revenues that make more resources available for the government to carry out its policies; expresses its concerns, however, about the sustainability of Kosovo’s budget with regard to the amount of benefits allocated to war veterans in particular, and calls, in this regard, for the reform of the relevant law as agreed with the International Monetary Fund; reiterates that socio-economic structural reforms are crucial for supporting long-term growth; stresses the need to bolster local industry as a matter of urgency, while also focusing on the competitiveness of locally manufactured products so that they may meet EU import standards; is concerned by the dependence on migrant
remittances; expresses concern at the ad hoc financing decisions taken, which
undermines the stability that businesses require; reiterates the need to expedite the
registration of new businesses, which are currently hampered by unaccountable
administration, underdeveloped infrastructure, a weak rule of law and corruption; urges
Kosovo to follow up on the recommendations from the EU’s ‘Small Business Act’
assessment and the introduction of regulatory impact assessments to reduce the
administrative burden on SMEs and calls on the Commission to increase assistance
towards SMEs; invites Kosovo to fully implement the recommendations of the 2016-
2018 Economic Reform Programme and the European Reform Agenda launched on 11
November 2016;

32. Notes with concern the high unemployment rate, especially youth unemployment, and expresses concern about discrimination against women on the labour market, especially in the hiring process; calls on Kosovo to step up its efforts to increase the level of employment and improve labour market conditions; highlights the need to focus on
improving the quality of education, including by improving teacher training, supporting
the school-to-work transition and matching educational competences with job needs,
which is an essential step in tackling the very high rate of youth unemployment; calls
for further efforts to increase joint education of all components of Kosovo’s society;
underlines the need to improve enforcement mechanisms, notably labour inspectorates
and courts, and to strengthen the dialogue, through the Social Economic Council of
Kosovo, between public institutions and social partners; welcomes the conclusions of
the 2016 Paris summit and the establishment of the first Regional Youth Cooperation
Office;

33. Regrets the slow pace of Kosovo’s efforts to build an adequate and efficient
administrative capacity, which is preventing the country from fully implementing the
laws adopted and using EU funds effectively; expresses regret at the endemic
corruption, the political interference and politicisation of staff in public administration
at all levels, as well as appointments to various independent institutions and agencies
made on the basis of political affiliation and not of professional criteria to a sufficient
extent; calls for further efforts to ensure merit-based recruitment, which is necessary to
ensure effective, efficient and professionally independent public administration; calls
for investigations to be made into the recent allegation of political interference in
recruitment to and decision-making processes in public bodies;

34. Notes that tendering specifications for applications for all forms of contracts under IPA funding are so demanding that Kosovar or regional companies often cannot even apply for them and calls, to this end, for special attention to be given to guide and instruct interested stakeholders; urges authorities to direct the remaining assistance, which has not yet been programmed, towards projects with a more direct impact on the economy of Kosovo;

35. Welcomes the extension of the mandate of EULEX Kosovo and urges Kosovo to
continue to cooperate actively in the full and unhindered execution by EULEX of its
mandate; calls for continued EU efforts in further strengthening independent justice,
police and customs systems beyond 2018 with a view to Kosovo taking full ownership
of these functions; calls for an efficient and smooth transition of judicial cases dealt
with by EULEX prosecutors to national prosecutors with appropriate safeguards to
guarantee that the victims of past violations have access to truth, justice and reparation;

36. Notes the termination of the criminal investigation into allegations of corruption in the EULEX mission; expresses its satisfaction that the EU officials involved were cleared
of any wrongdoing; calls on EULEX to ensure increased effectiveness, full transparency
and greater responsibility with regard to the mission for the duration of its mandate, and
to fully implement all the recommendations made by independent expert Jean-Paul
Jacqué in his report of 2014;

37. Notes that so far Kosovo has not become a major transit route for refugees and migrants travelling along the ‘Western Balkan route’; urges Kosovar authorities to ensure that those passing through are treated in accordance with European and international law, including the EU Charter for Fundamental Rights and the 1951 Refugee Convention;
reiterates that funding, amongst other provisions in the IPA II heading, should be
available and ready to be mobilised and implemented swiftly and effectively in times of
crisis and need;

38. Welcomes the fact that several Serb religious and cultural sites which regrettably were destroyed in 2004, have been renovated with Kosovo public funding, such as the
orthodox Cathedral; acknowledges Kosovo’s commitment to protect cultural heritage
sites and calls on the authorities to implement all UN conventions on cultural heritage at
all levels regardless of the status of Kosovo vis-a-vis UNESCO, through the adoption of
an appropriate strategy and national legislation, and to ensure the adequate protection
and management of cultural heritage sites throughout Kosovo; welcomes, in this
respect, the EU-funded programme aimed at protecting and reconstructing small
cultural heritage sites with a view to fostering intercultural and interreligious dialogue
in all multi-ethnic municipalities; reiterates the fact that the draft law on freedom of
religion needs to be adopted and should incorporate the Venice Commission’s
recommendations on the matter;

39. Warmly welcomes the Council of Europe’s decision to grant Kosovo observer status in
its Parliamentary Assembly as of January 2017 in respect of Kosovo-related sessions;
supports Kosovo’s efforts to integrate into the international community; calls, in this
connection, for the participation of Kosovo in all the relevant regional and international
organisations and urges Serbia to stop interfering in this process;

40. Urges the Kosovo authorities to adopt a credible long-term energy strategy and
legislative framework based on energy efficiency, the diversification of energy sources
and the development of renewables; highlights the need to further work towards reliable
electricity grids and to make the energy sector more sustainable, both in terms of
security and environmental standards; calls on the authorities to sign the Western
Balkan 6 Memorandum of Understanding on regional electricity market development
and on establishing a framework for future collaboration with other countries; stresses
that in 2017 Kosovo will hold the presidency of the Energy Community Treaty and
reminds the authorities of Kosovo’s legal obligation under this treaty to ensure that
25 % of all electricity is obtained from renewables by 2020; calls on the government to
respect the agreement to decommission the Kosovo A power plant and refurbish the
Kosovo B power plant, making use of the EUR 60 million allocated for this purpose by
the EU within the framework of IPA funds; calls for a hydropower strategy for the
whole of the Western Balkans;

41. Expresses its concern at the alarming level of air pollution in Kosovo, in particular in
the Pristina urban area, and calls on the state and local authorities to urgently take
adequate measures to deal with this emergency; highlights that the national strategy on
air quality needs to be properly enforced; is concerned that the waste management
problem remains one of the more visible problems in Kosovo and that the current
legislation does not fully address the challenge;

42. Welcomes the launch of the new railway connectivity project on the Orient/East-Med
Corridor, which includes new railway track and stations in Kosovo and constitutes
Kosovo’s sole connection to the wider region; calls on the government of Kosovo to
fully support the implementation of the project;

43. Welcomes the efforts made by the Commission to bring about the unblocking of the
power interconnection grid between Albania and Kosovo, which has been blocked for
months by Serbia, and calls for constructive cooperation between the Serbian and
Kosovar electricity authorities; reminds Serbia that the deadline set by the Energy
Community for removing the blockade was 31 December 2016 at the latest;

44. Calls on the Commission to continue its work on migration-related issues with all the
countries of the Western Balkans, in order to make sure that European and international
norms and standards are followed; welcomes the work done so far in this regard;

45. Calls on the Commission to make further efforts to support a true reconciliation process in the region, notably through support for cultural projects dealing with the recent past and promoting a common and shared understanding of history and a public and political culture of tolerance, inclusion and reconciliation;

46. Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the
European External Action Service and the Government and National Assembly of
Kosovo