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Minister Çollaku`s speech before the Assembly of the Republic of Kosovo on the plenary session for the ratification of the SAA

November 2, 2015

The speech before the Assembly of the Republic of Kosovo

The Draft law on Ratification of the Stabilization and Association agreement between the Republic of Kosovo, on one side, and the European Union and the European Atomic Energy Community on the other side

Honoured Chairman Veseli,

Honoured President Jahjaga,

Honoured Deputies of the Assembly of the Republic of Kosovo,

I have the honour to present before you today the Draft-Law on Ratification of the Stabilisation and Association Agreement between the Republic of Kosovo and European Union and the European Atomic Energy Community.

The Stabilisation and Association Agreement concluded with the EU represents the first and most important steep undertaken thus far in the path toward the integration of the Republic of Kosovo’s in the European Union.

Without overemphasizing, this agreement is vital to our country’s strategic, politic and economic orientation. Kosovo is now ready to assume its obligation and conduct the necessary reforms to meet the EU membership criteria. Certainly because of this agreement, the fate of Kosovo and the EU shall be more closely related – and I strongly believe that this is a great achievement; it is fair, and in full compliance with our state interest of Euro-Atlantic integration.

Our citizen’s benefits and our country’s journey toward European integration from this agreement shall not halt upon the entry into force of this agreement – in contrary, that shall be the moment when the true work for integration shall commence, and when such benefits shall be manifested.
While until now we have implemented various reforms and criteria, which often were painful and based solely on general promises made by the EU, and also in our believe that our country belongs to the European Union – from this moment on, such reforms shall be performed with a clear purpose agreed by both parties.

But, let’s take a step back, and remind ourselves why we are doing all of this? Why the citizens of Kosovo are so ardent to see their country in the EU? What are the reasons that led us here?

The reasons are clear: it is because the citizen’s of Kosovo consider EU values as their own and also because the country needs stability, peace, economic development, more job opportunities, freedom and rule of law.

The Stabilisation and Association agreement embodies all of these. It shall bring new motivation, impetus and obligations to implement the much needed reforms for our country: starting from further strengthening the rule of law, combating organized crime and corruption to economic reforms with the purpose of increasing employment opportunities and trade exchanges with the EU, hence increasing the export of Kosovo products.

All these shall make Kosovo more agile and ready to join the European family.

Allow me to briefly address some of the issues that have taken a lot of room in public discussions that followed the signing of this agreement. A lot of opinions were given as to whether this agreement is similar to those of the region or not. A short answer to that: This agreement, in every aspect of it, is similar to those of the countries in the region, who enjoy a membership perspective.

However, it is and undeniable fact that we have a more specific case in relation to the EU, and that the EU today is not the same with as 5 or 10 years ago. With regard to EU’s position in relation to us, everyone is aware that five EU member state have not yet recognized Kosovo. But these very same countries, with their consent to approve this agreement have shown that they are constructive – hence agreed that despite their current position, not to deny our country getting closer to the EU.
Therefore, this is something that must be appreciated by everyone.

This agreement is an additional guarantee regarding our country’s orientation, and naturally the same shall serve as a steep forward toward convincing these countries that recognition of the Republic of Kosovo is necessary, and not the opposite.

(2) Whereas, with regard to the EU, the EU’s framework upon the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty has changed, therefore now the EU now has the power to conclude the SAA on behalf of countries, which resulted with an accelerated process compared to the process our neighbour went through.

Recently there were a lot of discussions about the obligations emerging from this agreement regarding to the dialogue on the normalization of agreements with Serbia.

The EU considers the development of good neighbourly relations by countries aspiring membership as very essential. Kosovo always promoted good neighbourhood relations in the context of foreign policy. This was undoubtedly one of the reasons which convinced our partners that Kosovo is willing to commence the formal journey of integration through the SAA. Obligations arising from this agreement are in full compliance with our purposes of expanding the law of the Republic of Kosovo throughout the territory and integration of Kosovo’s citizens in the institutional framework.

Honoured MP’s,

The SAA that we have before us is the result of a genuine process and a careful negotiation of all relevant institutions. In order to coordinate the negotiation process, the Government of the Republic of Kosovo on 27 February 2013 established the SAA negotiation structures: a Negotiating Team and five Negotiations Working Groups.

Negotiations commenced on 28 October 2013, and during the 6 months of negotiations three meetings have been held at the level of Chief negotiators and tens of working groups meetings. The negotiations ended on 02 May 2014. Whereas, on 25 July 2014, were placed the initials on the negotiated document.

On 22 October 2015, the EU Council approved the SAA, whereas on 27 October the same was signed. The SAA implementation period is 10 years. The review shall be done after 5 years.

The SAA has a total of 597 pages, divided into ten titles, 7 annexes, five protocols and 1 declaration. The SAA contains 4 main parts: political issues; approximation of legislation; cooperation policies; business matters.

Allow me to summarize, in a few words. the importance of Stabilisation and Association Agreement’s political, legal and economic conditions.

From the political point of view, the SAA has advanced our relations with the EU from a declarative political relation and good will to contractual relationship with rights and obligations for both signatory parties.

As such, the SAA is the foundation of the formal process of our integration in the EU. Upon the signing of the SAA, Kosovo commenced its official journey toward EU membership. Within the SAA, the EU has assumed the obligation to bring to live Kosovo’s European perspective, by integrating the Republic of Kosovo to the EU, in compliance with Copenhagen criteria of 1993.

From the legal point of view, 
The SAA between Kosovo and the European Union has the same legal grounds as all the SAA of the countries in the region. The SAA is negotiated based on Article 218 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union. This legal ground determines that the European Union may conclude international agreements with third countries. The SAA formalizes our institutional dialogue with the European Union through the establishment of institutional mechanisms. The Republic of Kosovo has undertaken the responsibility to gradually align the current and future legislation with the EU legislation. In the first phase, we shall pay importance to the approximation of EU’s basic legislation in the field of internal market, commercial agreements and rule of law.

In the economic point of view,
 The SAA shall have a range of positive effects. Initially, it must be stressed that the SAA aims to establish a free trade area between Kosovo and the EU within 10 years. As of the entry into force of the SAA, in one side we shall enable full access of Kosovo’s products into the EU, and gradual liberalization of Kosovo’s market for EU products on the other side. Market liberalization between Kosovo and the EU shall directly impact in increasing competitiveness of our economy, and affect the provision of qualitative services, good products and lower prices for the citizens. The SAA shall provide more stability and predictability for investors, thus contributing to the growth of foreign direct investment. Overall, the SAA shall affect our economic restructuring, economic growth, and reduce unemployment.

Honoured MP’s,

Today, before us we have an international agreement which represents an excellent political, legal, and economic offer for our country to join a powerful political and economic block in the world. This agreement is in the interest of every citizen of Kosovo.

I would like to thank the European Commission and all EU Member States that supported and invested a lot, so we could have before us today a Stabilisation and Association Agreement.
I consider that the ratification of the Stabilisation and Association Agreement is the most important event that occurred in the Assembly of the Republic of Kosovo, following the declaration of independence. This is not a gift of the European Union but rather a realistic assessment based on our achievements as a country, and a society. Today’s moment is a merit built on the sacrifices of past generations, and the hope of future ones.

While thanking all you present for your continuous cooperation to the country’s European integration process, allow me to propose the approval of the Draft-law on ratification of the Stabilisation and Association Agreement between the Republic of Kosovo on one side and the European Union on the other side.

Thank you for attention!

Last modified: August 11, 2022

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