80 percent of Kosovars in favor of EU integration

80 percent of Kosovars in favor of EU integration

IBNA Special Report

Pristina, July 2, 2014/Independent Balkan News Agency

By Elton Tota

“Kosovo’s European Perspective” non government organization and the European Union Office in Pristina have carried out a survey over the role of the EU in Kosovo.

Based on this survey, the citizens of Kosovo are more concerned about the weak economy of the country, corruption and unemployment than the EU integration.

The fourth concern of the citizens relates to the integration of the north, while the fifth concern is the integration of Kosovo in the European Union.

Based on this survey, if there was a referendum in Kosovo on the EU accession of the country, 79% of people would vote in favor of this.

This is the opinion of Albanian ethnics, in contrast to the opinion of Serb ethnics who are against the accession of Kosovo in the EU. 65% of them said that they would vote against.

Serbs have also been skeptic as to whether the accession of Kosovo in the EU would have a positive impact on the free movement of Albanians in Kosovo.

40% of Serbs have said that this will not have any effect, while 80% of Albanians have said the opposite and that the accession of Kosovo in the EU would have a positive impact on their free movement.

Asked as to when they see Kosovo as part of EU, 25% of respondents said in 2018, 25% in 2020.

18% believe that this will happen in 2015, 12% in 2030, 13% have answered that they don’t know, while 2% have said that Kosovo will never be part of EU.

The number of Kosovars who have knowledge about the EU, compared to 2013, has increased by 5% this year, according to this survey.

But, the positive perception of Kosovars about the EU in the past two years has seen a 4% drop.

Experts of European integration processes told IBNA that the fight against corruption, economic development, reformation of the administration, health system, must be achieved in order to guarantee a better living to the citizens of Kosovo and then to bring the country closer to the EU.

“There’s an impression that the fight against crime and corruption, reforms in the judiciary system, education, health system and other domains must be made about the fact that Brussels is demanding them and not because the citizens of Kosovo need them for better living standards”, says Avni Mazreku, professor of European law.

According to him, citizens of Kosovo are very eager to become members of the European family, but in the absence of a responsible leadership, the EU integration path will be longer and will have many challenges.

Professor of European law, Muhamer Pajaziti blames Brussels for the lack of a strategy which would help the Balkan countries.

“It’s been years that EU officials repeat the same declarations for the fulfillment of the economic, political and legal criteria of Copenhagen. I believe that declarations are not enough to offer stability in the region. In the future, there must be adequate mechanisms and serious investments to bring the countries of the region closer to the EU”, says Pajaziti.

Expert of European affairs, Emrush Ujkani says that it’s been a while now that the citizens of Kosovo are under the impression that the EU is some sort of paradise and that they can solve all their problems through integration, but according to him, integration must happen within Kosovo itself and problems of corruption and economic problems must be addressed by the country itself.

Meanwhile, Stojan Pelko, from the EU office, said that the scope of this survey was to ask the citizens of Kosovo about the work of the European Union mission in Kosovo.

“I believe that the findings of this survey do not only relate as to what has changed as opposed to last year in the perception of the European Union efforts and also the efforts of the Ministry of the European Integration of Kosovo, but also how the situation changed from 2010 to 2014. This is the first important thing which offers us a picture of the activities. Secondly, no survey is a good one if it’s done quickly”, says Pelko. /ibna/