SAA negotiations come to an end, Kosovo has a long way ahead toward the EU

SAA negotiations come to an end, Kosovo has a long way ahead toward the EU

IBNA Special Report

Pristina, May 3, 2014/Independent Balkan News Agency

By Elton Tota

Kosovo and the European Union have concluded the negotiations for the signature of the Stabilization and Association Agreement (SAA). The draft prepared by both sides will now undergo EU technical procedures and the agreement is  expected to be signed the summer.

Experts of integrating processes told IBNA that Kosovo is late in the process of European integration. According to them, the countries of the region have finalized the talks for SAA 10 years ago and they’re not even half way in the path toward European integration.

Professor of European Law, Lokman Mirtezani says that Kosovo has a long way ahead in the European integration.

“SAA talks have ended, but in the near future, the agreement must be signed by prime minister Thaci, acting president of the Foreign Council of Ministers, Enlargement Commissioner, Stefan Fule and the foreign ministers of the EU member countries.

Moreover, SAA must also be ratified by 28 EU member countries. “In this aspect, there may be obstacles by 5 countries which are yet to recognize Kosovo”, says Mirtezani.

Talking to IBNA, professor of European Law at the University of Pristina, Bardhyl Hasanpapaj says that it’s also possible for SAA to be ratified by the 5 member countries which  haven’t recognized Kosovo yet.

In contrast to Mirtezani, Hasanpapaj gives the reasons why he doesn’t expect the five countries to play a negative role.

“There will be serious obstacles in the final stage, when Kosovo approaches to the EU. SAA will be ratified by all EU member countries. In two or three years time, Kosovo will also be granted the candidate status. At the moment when accession negotiations are launched, any of the 5 EU member countries which hasn’t recognized Kosovo, will use its veto”, says Hasanpapaj.

According to him, the same thing has taken place in FYR Macedonia, which has signed SAA 10 years ago and has been blocked by Greece and Bulgaria.

“Macedonia was not blocked in the  initial phases of integration. In 2005, it was granted the candidate status. At the moment that there was a recommendation by the European Commission to start negotiations for accession, there was the Greek and Bulgarian veto. The same thing is also expected to take place with Kosovo”, says he.

Professor of constitutional law, Fatos Rushiti says for IBNA that without a normalization of relations with Serbia, Kosovo cannot be integrated in the European Union. According to him, the same thing also goes for Serbia.

“In the near future, Kosovo and Serbia must sign a Treaty of peace, which will give way to the accession of both countries in the EU. Following the signature of this Treaty, there will be a recognition by the 5 EU member states and this will mark the end of the Albanian-Serb conflict”, says Rushiti.

Meanwhile, the Kosovar side and Brussels representatives praise SAA.

Prime minister of Kosovo, Hashim Thaci says that the approval of the agreement will be the basis of the process of the integration of Kosovo in the European Union.

“The approval of SAA will be the foundation of the integrating process of our country in the EU. We have an excellent political, legal and economic offer in order to join the most powerful political and economic block in the world. The agreement will be the basic document which will regulate our political relations with the European Union, until the accession of Kosovo in the European Union”, said Thaci.

According to him, this removes every doubt and seals the fate of our state to become an EU member.

“This negotiated agreement will fully open the EU market for our businesses and at the same time, it will offer special protection for the development of small and medium sized businesses, which have the potential to create new jobs. Since the proclamation of independence, we have been focused on building strong foundations of economic development and the creation of new jobs. This has meant the consolidation of the institutions of the state and investments in infrastructure, agriculture and lately, reforms on doing business”, says the prime minister.

For the EU head negotiator, Jean Eric Paquet, SAA is an important step which supports the necessary reforms for Kosovo, especially in the domain of the rule of law, public administration, elections, democratic governing, protection of minorities, domestic market, trade policies.

Meanwhile, minister of Integration, Vlora Citaku says that the approval of this document marks a historical day for Kosovo toward EU accession.

“We’re only at the start of a long journey toward the accession of Kosovo in the EU and many challenges in front of us. In this aspect, the government will continue to focus on the implementation of short term criteria of the feasibility study”, said Citaku.

According to Citaku, SAA between Kosovo and EU is expected to be signed in the summer.

“On Friday we have finalized negotiations. With this, Kosovo has done its part and now, a very voluminous draft agreement will enter Brussels bureaucratic machinery. We’re waiting, but I would not like to give deadlines, because this doesn’t depend on us or on the European Commission. Within summer, we’re expecting to sign SAA agreement”, said Citaku.

In October 2012, European Commission (EC) approved a positive feasibility study thus giving way to the country to start negotiations with the EU for a Stabilization and Association Agreement.

SAA reflects the main directives of the Copenhagen Criteria for the accession of an aspiring country in the European Union. Those criteria consist on democracy and the rule of law, creation of a functional market of economy, able to endure competitive pressures and the adaption of acquis communautaire. /ibna/