European Union officials visit Kosovo

EU Flags; Photo: Pixabay

PRISTINA – European Union and Kosovo officials met in Pristina on 14-15 December 2017 to discuss security, counterterrorism and countering violent extremism. The EU delegation was led by Deputy Secretary General Pedro Serrano from the European External Action Service (EEAS), together with EU Counterterrorism Coordinator Gilles de Kerchove and Deputy Director General Olivier Onidi from DG HOME. The visit is one in a series of high-level visits to the Western Balkans on these issues.

Terrorism and violent extremism are common challenges for the EU and the Western Balkans, and can only be tackled effectively through close collaboration. The meetings held over the course of two days were productive in assessing challenges and identifying approaches to strengthening collective efforts in confronting these threats. In this context, both sides welcomed that from 13 December 2017, Kosovo has become a full priority partner of Europol, with a view to further strengthening strategic cooperation with the EU.

The EU officials met with senior Kosovo officials, including Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Behgjet Pacolli, Minister of Internal Affairs Flamur Sefaj, and Director General of Kosovo Police Shpend Maxhuni.

Terrorism, radicalisation and violent extremism continue to pose a security threat to the EU and the Western Balkans. At regional level coordination between relevant Western Balkans countries and other key partners is crucial, facilitated through the Western Balkan Counter-Terrorism initiative (WBCTi). The initiative aims to coordinate EU and international assistance and regional cooperation in the counterterrorism field, minimising duplications and maximising cost-benefit efficiency.

In Kosovo, the Stabilisation and Association Agreement with the EU covers essential elements relevant to counterterrorism, including the establishment of a solid track-record of investigations, prosecutions and final convictions, as well as enhanced regional co-operation and exchange of information between law enforcement and intelligence services. On 13 December 2017, Europol put Kosovo on the list of priority partners for strategic cooperation. Europol is the European Union Agency for Law Enforcement Cooperation.