Zyra e Kryeministrit

Prime Minister Kurti’s address at the 10th SAPC Meeting of the Kosovo-EU SAA Parliamentary Committee

March 15, 2023


Strasbourg, 15 March 2023

The Prime Minister of the Republic of Kosovo, Albin Kurti, participated today in the 10th meeting of the joint Parliamentary Committee for the Stabilization-Association Agreement with the EU.

In this meeting, he spoke about the role and continued support of the European Parliament for Kosovo, even before the declaration of independence, and the people of Kosovo, about the democratic values we share with the European Union, about respect for human rights, Kosovo’s application to the European Union and the implementation of the SAA agreement. He also singled out some of the main achievements in the fight against crime and corruption, the reforms undertaken and the improvements noted during almost two years of government.

Below you can find the complete addressing of Prime Minister Kurti:

Dear Co-Chairs EU-Kosova Stabilisation and Association Parliamentary Committee, Mr. Romeo Franz and Ms. Mimoza Kusari – Lila,
Dear Head of Unit for Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosova at the European Commission, Mr Vassilis Maragos,
Dear Senior Adviser on Western Balkans, European External Action Service, Mr. Clive Rumbold,
Dear European Parliament’s standing rapporteur on Kosova, Ms. Viola Von Cramon ,
Dear Members of the Stabilisation and Association Parliamentary Committee,
Ladies and gentlemen,

It is an honor to be here today in the European Parliament and address this shared committee of our two parliaments.

Systems of democracy have relied on many tools, but predominantly on parliaments to bring up democratic values, and have these values defended on behalf of those who do not share the same podium. Among the world’s most recognized parliaments, the European Parliament, has a robust history of shedding light on struggles that remain out of sight of many and honoring the extraordinary resistance of ordinary people.

Kosova has been a recipient of deep-rooted conviction of this institution to defend democracy. Through its resolutions and reports, members of the Parliament have called on all EU member states to recognize the independent country, called on the Council to lift the visa regime for our citizens and advocate overall for a stronger European Perspective for our country and our region. The fruits of this support are evident to see. Just last week, the Council of European Union, in unanimous fashion decided in favor of Kosova’s visa-free travel regime, bringing us closer to being full participants of Europe.

The support we have enjoyed from the Parliament pre-dates our country’s independence. One of the most visible and decisive ways that the Parliament has supported the tireless and courageous fight for human rights worldwide is through the Sakharov Prize – which was first awarded to Nelson Mandela and Soviet dissident Anatoli Marchenko in 1988, becoming the Union’s foremost honor for the battle for human rights and freedoms. Kosova’s own human rights fight was honored twice with this award; the first of which was bestowed to the writer and 28 years long political-prisoner Adem Demaçi in 1991 and the second, seven years later, to President Ibrahim Rugova. Through this work to recognize and champion those resisting oppression the Parliament has embodied the much cited – but ever true – Martin Luther King quote that “injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

Exemplifying the historic role of the European Parliament to recognize and value the defense of human rights and fundamental freedoms of the continent, this year the same prize has been awarded to the People of Ukraine for “protecting, democracy, freedom and rule of law”. Today we stand in solidarity with those struggling for freedom worldwide. We stand in solidarity with Ukraine. Our thoughts and sympathy go out to the victims of the Russian aggression, and we believe that the only just end to this war can be with a Ukranian victory.

From our own experience a quarter of century ago, we know how much sufferings and losses can be caused by aggressive neighbour and how much sacrifices are needed for liberation struggle. The recognition for the human rights fight that Kosova received from this very Parliament, has been an important pillar in our country’s success story. Ten years after Ibrahim Rugova was awarded the Sakharov Prize, we declared our independence. In our 15 years as an independent country, marked last month, we have built a country with democratic institutions, where opposition parties win elections, where the same elections are fair and where the fight to respect the human rights we so hard fought for and to join the most advanced of democracies in the commitment to have human rights be the central feature with which we govern. In out 15 years as a country we have shown to be a country inherently guided by European values and one working towards a European future.

The path to future fostering these European values is by increasing our proximity to the EU. A strong barrier to such proximity has been the long-held visa regime as we know it. This parliament and several very vocal MPs have called for Visa Liberalisation throughout the years and have insisted upon the important nature of this topic. Last year we have worked together with the Commission, Member States and Czech Presidency to ensure that Visa Liberalization is brought to the agenda of the Council. The European Parliament remained all along a constructive and supportive voice. Following the progress we have shown in areas of rule of law, fight against corruption and organized crime, as well as in the mitigation of irregular migration, Visa Liberalisation – after pending for more than four years in the Council — was finally brought to the agenda of the Visa Working Party. It was voted by the Council in December after the successful trialogue between European Parliament and Council, it was also concluded and voted on 12th of January 2023. Last week, we celebrated the Council’s decision to support Visa Liberalisation for Kosova. As we await the remaining steps which include this Parliament’s approval, we trust and hope that our citizens will be able, just like the rest of the Western Balkan countries, to travel visa-free to Europe by the 1st of January 2024.

In addition to Visa Liberalisation, last year marked another important step in advancing our relations with the European Union. On the 15th of December we have officially applied for EU membership. In 2003 in Thessaloniki, the European Union made a meaningful promise of unequivocal support for the European Perspective of the Western Balkans.

The Thessaloniki Summit was clear, it promised preparation for integration into European Structures and ultimate membership into the European Union. This perspective has been re-confirmed with the Declarations of Sofia, Zagreb, Brdo and recently in Tirana in December of last year. 20 years after the Thessaloniki Summit, Kosova remains the only country without a candidate status, despite – one would objectively argue – deserving it.

We, therefore, believe that Kosova is ready to embark on the required strict, fair and meritocratic assessment of the Commission. Kosova’s application comes six years after the implementation of Stabilization Association Agreement. This makes the country one that has implemented the SAA the longest before its application. For the past 20 years Kosova has also aligned itself with the EU acquis through the SAP. Moreover, for more than seven years Kosova is officially aligning its legislation with the EU acquis and has built its EU institutional capacities through the SAA. All of the above mentioned work, and more, gives us a solid ground and responsible hope for the candidate status questionnaire.

Although our status as a country remains contested by five member states, our reality and future – at the heart of the Balkans – remains uncontestably European. The EU principle “Diversity in recognition and unity in engagement”, which proved to be fruitful with the SAA and the visa liberalization, should also extend to the accession process with Kosova.

As for the Dialogue with Serbia, we are committed, constructive and creative. We believe the Basic Agreement between Kosova and Serbia constitutes an advancement of relations between two states. We stand by the universal principle that the agreement supports such as that of respect for territorial integrity, renouncing objections to the membership of our Republic in international organizations, exchange of diplomatic missions through full-fledged ambassadors, recognition of state symbols, passports, etc. As for the minority rights in Kosova, we are confident that our constitution – which provides for the direct application of the European Convention Human Rights and other international treaties – offers the right framework to respect minority rights and strengthen them as needed.

Dear parliamentarians,

In almost two years of our government’s mandate, we have decisively and successfully demonstrated the will to fight crime and corruption, as well as effectively implement judicial and public administration reforms. Our dedication to greater transparency and progress was duly noted by renowned international bodies such as the Transparency International index and the EU Commission’s Country Report.

At a time where democracy is under great threat, Kosova has built itself to be the most democratic country in the region as measured by international benchmarks on Rule of Law, Good Governance, Democratization, Anti-Corruption and Media Freedom. We have experienced noticeable progress in the last two years, improving our ranking by 20 places on Transparency International and 17 places on World Press Freedom Index. Last week’s Freedom House Report once again reaffirmed this progress. According to the report Kosova ranks 1st in the Western Balkans, 2nd in Europe and 3rd in the world for progress made in political rights and civil liberties.

Our strengthened democracy and resulting political stability was transformed into a macroeconomic dividend. We experienced a double-digit economic growth of 10.7% in 2021, and continued to grow in 2022 at around 4% after subtracting the inflation. This year we had a 17% increase in budget revenues compared to the previous one. Our FDI increased by a staggering 44%, while our exports increased by 23%, tax revenues by 22%, and custom revenues by 11%.

We have delivered in many long overdue reforms which were repeatedly recommended by the EU since 2012. Last year was also very successful when it comes to the European agenda, the implementation of the Stabilisation and Association National Programme and strong focus on the European Reform Agenda. Kosova is also the second country to ratify the three agreements from the Berlin Process signed last November, while with 2/3rd parliamentary approval, it also became the first country in the Western Balkans region to also ratify them. We are firmly committed to regional cooperation.

Dear Parliamentarians,

Our CFSP alignment on sanctions against Russia, our solidarity with Ukraine, our solidarity shown by evacuating almost 1900 Afghan Refugees, our commitment to rule of law, democracy, media freedom, our painstaking reforms and our Euro-Atlantic orientation, are all important markers of our democracy and allyship to the EU. Kosova is demonstrating daily that is a country not only built on European values but one that champions them on all levels of the government and society, and whose future is European.

Thank you.

Last modified: March 16, 2023

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