RKL: Mr. Çollaku, one of the main goals of you ministry, is the acceleration of EU-integration processes. Were Kosovo stands in this regard?
Çollaku: I agree, although the European integration is a reform and transformation process in order that Kosovo is approximated European Union, is not just the matter of speed. Initially is the quality of work that we do as in the approximation of legislation with that of EU as well the implementation of the same, harmonization of policies and the adoption of standards etc. As to where we stand, I would stress that currently we are on the verge of a new phase where the relationship between Kosovo and the European Union is going through a contractual reality through finalization and entry into force of the Stabilization and Association Agreement. As you know, this means a commitment and mutual obligation to fulfill the provisions of this agreement aimed at the practical implementation of the European perspective of the country, thus the goal of Kosovo’s membership in the EU.
RKL: The issue of the liberalization process is actualized again, this time by a number of difficulties from illegal migration, which took place during the first two months of 2015. The public continues to have controversial opinions in this regard. Will this process is likely to be finalized this year?
Çollaku: For the Government of the Republic of Kosovo visa liberalization is a priority, and this has been an ongoing topic and continues to be so. It is unfortunate that migration recorded a sudden increase at the end of last year and the first months of this year, especially now that we are in the last phase of the process. However, this wave stopped and we are doing our best to prevent from happening again, same time we are dealing with the consequences of the current migration. I prefer not to talk with dates when this process ends, however, I am confident that we will soon meet all technical requirements and certainly within this year. The decision to be made is of EU institutions and member states.
RKL: A number of European officials warned that liberalization process does not solve the economic problems of the citizens, since the visa liberalization does not mean a priori the right to work. Does your Ministry have undertaken any public awareness campaign regarding this issue?
Çollaku: I believe that Kosovo’s citizens are well informed about what visa liberalization means, they know that the benefit of this process is to facilitate the movement in Europe for short stay and consider it as such. Even in Kosovo, as regional practice, there will be information campaigns on the rights and obligations of citizens following visa liberalization, and we are doing preparations in this regard.
RKL: Do you consider that it will be more beneficial the signing of agreements for seasonal employment with certain EU states than the concentration only to visa liberalization?
Çollaku: Visa liberalization and eventual agreements on seasonal employment opportunities do not exclude each other. We have the capacity to work in both directions without sacrificing either. It is not fetched the focus on liberalization, but simply fully focus of responsible institutions in the fulfillment of the conditions is a priority for the government as a response to very reasonable request of citizens.
RKL: Let`s go back once again to illegal migration issue. In the opinion there is a speculation on the number of those who left the country and the reasons for migration, backgrounds, etc. Based on your contacts with officials in Brussels, do you have any approximate figure on the number of those who have migrated illegally?
Çollaku: It is true that there has been speculation about the number of Kosovo citizens that sought asylum in EU countries, but we as institutions consistently have referred to reports and official statistics of EUROSTAT. Therefore, in 2014 EUROSTAT reported that 38.435 citizens of Kosovo sought asylum in the EU and Schengen area. While we are waiting for an updated report for the first months of 2015, but one thing is sure, that this year we are working continuously to decline the number of asylum seekers and the same time to intensify the process of repatriation of those who have migrated last year and early this year.
RKL: There are rumors, even a statement of the Norwegian Ambassador in Kosovo, t hat all those who have migrated illegally, will be subject of 5 year banning from the right of movement in the Schengen countries, even in the event of free visa regime. How true are these?
Çollaku: Measures and sanctions that take individual Schengen countries are to be determined by them. Certainly, illegal migration has it consequences, and this is a great misfortune for those affected.
RKL: All EU countries affected by migration, particularly Germany, Austria and France have announced the return of all asylum seekers from Kosovo. In these countries it appears that there is no dilemma whether to accept or not, but how to accelerate procedures for immediate return. After these warnings, whether Kosovo is ready to accept these citizens? Do the repatriation costs will exacerbate the Kosovo budget?
ÇollakuWe remain fully committed to fulfilling the obligations of readmission agreements we have with these countries. Moreover, this is also a legal obligation of ours. There is no doubt that on returning of all illegal migrants. We have institutional mechanisms and budgetary resources for sustainable reintegration of citizens. From January 1 to March 17, 2015, over 2,300 persons are repatriated and this trend will only intensify. Increased the number of migrants is accompanied by increased return.
RKL: Considering the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding between the Ministry of European Integration and the University of Prishtina for translation of 200 thousand pages of EU legislation. This MoU mentioned that, a number of students of the Faculty of Philology will be engaged to this issue. Can you explain to us more about this issue?
Çollaku: This agreement is very good news for both parties and for the integration process. For us as an institution is very important to build capacities for translation of EU legislation in the official languages of the Republic of Kosovo, it is a major engagement. This agreement is a framework for broad cooperation between the two institutions providing training and engagement of staff and students of the University of Prishtina. Among others, it will enable training of staff and students in the use of translation software systems, internship of UP students in the Ministry for European Integration, establishment of a terminology database, etc.
Interviewed by: Salih Mehmeti
20 March 2015
Last modified: August 12, 2022