EU High Representative Ashton officially invites Kosovo PM Thaci to Brussels

Thaci-AshtonAPRISTINA, Kosovo — The European Union High Representative Catherine Ashton on Friday finished her Balkans tour in Kosovo. In Prishtina Ashton was welcomed first by Xavier de Marnhac, the Head of the EU rule-of-law mission (EULEX) in Kosovo. Later on she met Kosovo Deputy Prime Minister Edita Tahiri, the head of the Kosovar negotiation team at the EU mediated talks of Kosovo and Serbia in Brussels. Finally she gathered with Prime Minister Hashim Thaci for a working lunch in the southern Kosovar town of Prizren. As to Kosovar media, the meeting lasted one hour longer than scheduled. Diplomatically the visit was a success for the Thaci government. 

At a joined press conference Ashton stated to share the vision of a "future for Kosovo as part of the European Union". In this context she officially invited Kosovo Prime Minister Thaci "to come to Brussels", in order  to "… continue the dialogue".

Ashton further on confirmed to have discussed "issues of concern  – visa liberalization, trade, the role of EULEX and the importance of support for them."

In addition Ashton praised "Edita Tahiri for the work she’s done in pursuing the dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina … the practical consequences of that will, I hope, make a difference to the everyday life of the people of Kosovo".

Referring to the arrest of the Serb war crime suspect Mladic on the day before, she agreed that this "is an important moment for Serbia … But the road to the European Union requires … a lot of work on the technical issues that need to be addressed and it also requires us to move forward in a political direction with the whole of the European Union. I think that’s understood very well in Serbia and understood very well in Kosovo."

Moreover she didn’t hesitate to address the known obstacles: "There is absolute clarity from the UN about the position of Kosovo and you know that within the  European Union there are different views.  The European Union itself doesn’t recognize anyone; it’s Member States who recognize countries. The critical question will be how to ensure that we have Kosovo and Serbia in the European Union."

By taking into account the prior announcement of EU Commission President Barroso, that the recognition of Kosovo wouldn’t be a condition for Serbia’s EU integration,  Ashton’s statement again gave reason to consider a "Cyprus-style" one-sided  EU membership of Serbia as an alternative option for EU officials:

"… those very difficult issues will be part of how we take this forward, not just, as you will have realized, between Kosovo and Serbia, but also in the European Union itself."

Reportedly a team of the EU will visit Kosovo soon to evaluate Kosovo’s efforts to achieve visa free travel throughout Europe. In addition Thaci showed himself convinced, that the EU will confirm a new trade agreement with Kosovo in the near future. 


Ashton and Thaci met in the southern Kosovo town of Prizren

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