OCTOBER 12 2012 20:02h
PRISTINA, Oct 12 (Hina) - Kosovo could begin negotiations with the European Union concerning the process of stabilisation and association in the first half of 2013 if the the country's institutions worked hard on implementing reforms, European Union Enlargement Commissioner Stefan Fuele said in Pristina on Friday.
Appearing at a press conference following his talks with Kosovo Premier Hashim Thaci, Fuele said that a feasibility study presented in Brussels on Wednesday, confirmed that there were no legal obstacles for the negotiations on the Stabilisation and Association Agreement (SAA) with the EU.
“If you have a strong consensus and if you work hard, I believe that you can start the negotiations (on the SAA) in the first half of the next year. Kosovo’s EU pathway does not depend on us in the EU but solely on your work on reforms and your ability to build a strong consensus in Kosovo’s society,” the enlargement commissioner underscored.
Fuele added that north Kosovo still remained to be a challenge, stressing that the EU was prepared to help Kosovo in resolving this problem. He added that it was very important that Kosovo applied all agreements reached between Pristina and Belgrade so far and that he had said the same to Serbian officials.
Thaci confirmed that Kosovo's integration to the EU was not just an option but that it was a goal and priority. He welcomed the recommendations of the feasibility study adding that Kosovo agreed with the clear messages sent from Brussels. He expressed readiness to normalise relations with neighbours, particularly with Serbia.
Commissioner Fuele met in Kosovo with President Atifete Jahjaga as well as the president of the Kosovo Assembly Jakup Krasniqi.
On Wednesday, Oct 10th the European Commission released an annual report on the progress of seven candidate and possible candidate countries for accession to the EU and a feasibility study recommending that negotiations on stabilisation and accession could begin with Kosovo.
Kosovo is in a specific position seeing that five EU member countries have not as yet recognised its independence and it still does not have any contractual relations with the EU. (Hina)