Sarajevo, 16 March 2018 – The joint meeting of Western Balkan Foreign Ministers with senior leaders of the European Commission and Great Britain in the framework of the Berlin Process and the Trieste Initiative, two stimulating instruments for bringing these countries closer to the European Union, commenced today in Sarajevo.
Visa Liberalization for Kosovo; Cross-border Free Economic Zones between North Kosovo and South Serbia; removal of the Serbian blockade for the Interconnection Line with Albania, were some requests of Minister Pacolli. "Kosovo's statehood is a work done," told Mr. Pacolli to the Serbian Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic.
The opening remark of the meeting was delivered by the host, Foreign Minister of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Mr Igor Crnadak, who then gave the floor to Bulgaria's Foreign Minister, Ekaterina Zaharieva, on behalf of Bulgaria, a country that chairs the European Union.
Director-General for Enlargement, Mr Christian Danielsson on behalf of Commissioner Hahn, illustrated the expectations of the European Union from the Balkan countries in reform and regional cooperation.
“The Balkans has become the number one priority for Commissioners Mogherini and Hahn and the entire European Union, and you need to catch the momentum", said the Director for Balkans and Turkey, Angelica Eichhorst to Balkan Ministers.
Albania's foreign minister, Mr Ditmir Bushati, called for more realism from the European Union, demanding more clarity on the deadlines, instruments, tools available for enlargement of the Balkan countries.
At the beginning of his speech, the second of Kosovo Government and the Foreign Minister of Kosovo, Mr Behgjet Pacolli, had some words of regret about Bosnia's efforts to exclude Kosovo from this activity.
On his response towards Serbia's Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic, who questioned Kosovo's participation in Sofia, at the next meeting organized by Bulgaria, Mr Pacolli said: "Kosovo's statehood is a work done. We will be together in Sofia, like all other Balkan and European Union countries".
Further on, Minister Pacolli spoke about the implications of the EU Enlargement Strategy in the Kosovo Government's activities within the country and about the relations with the region and the EU.
Minister Pacolli underlined the fact that the Strategy confirmed the Kosovo's undoubting membership as an independent and sovereign state in the near future, something that has already become clear to Serbia as well.
“We remain strongly committed to the European integration process, the implementation of the Stabilization and Association Agreement, as well as the EU Facilitated Dialogue on normalizing relations with Serbia, which should end with a legally binding agreement on both sides”, stated Minister Pacolli.
“We are increasing co-operation with all our neighbours, even with Greece, which supports our European integration”, stated Mr Pacolli further on.
While referring to the Berlin Process, the European Union's initiative to promote economic, infrastructural and other cooperation amongst Balkan countries, Kosovo's chief diplomat proposed the creation of a Cross-border Free Economic Zone between the North of Kosovo and the South of Serbia, as an asymmetric action that would bring economic development, normalize inter-ethnic relations and diminish the importance of borders.
While referring to the Common Economic Zone in the region, Mr Pacolli said he understands the European Union's approach of considering this Zone as a precondition for integration.
Nonetheless, he continued saying: "how do we resolve inequalities in mutual treatment? How do we force Bosnia and Serbia to remove obstacles to the free movement of people, goods, and capital in all this space? How do we force Serbia to unblock the operation of the Interconnection Line between Albania and Kosovo, an action it takes to maintain the monopoly on energy distribution in the region? How do we overcome the inequalities created by the geographic position, by compensating those countries that share no borders with the EU? We shall also have an arbitration body for disputes between us, not just on a bilateral or regional basis", thus clarifying the position of Kosovo.
By referring to the free movement of citizens in the region and towards the EU, Mr Pacolli called for visa liberalization with the EU, “because Kosovo cannot become the black hole of Europe”.
Towards the end, Mr Pacolli addressed to his Bosnian counterpart jokingly: "I now have to finish my speech, because my stay in Bosnia lasts only two days, according to the visa you issued”.
Foreign Minister, Mr Pacolli called for facilitation of contacts between Kosovo Bosnian citizens or Kosovans in general and Bosnia, in accordance with the spirit of regional co-operation.