I am glad to be here today in Pristina where I had a set of fruitful meetings with President Jahjaga, Prime Minister Mustafa, European Integration Minister Collaku and Interior Minister Hyseni.
Our meetings today are part of an ongoing dialogue and cooperation.
We discussed two sets of issues:
- Kosovo’s steps to address the recent increase of migration flows to the EU;
- Kosovo’s state of play in the visa liberalisation dialogue.
Let me begin with some good news: FRONTEX reports that detections of irregular border-crossing by Kosovo citizens at the Serbian-Hungarian border dropped over the past month from some 1,400 to only 15 a day. It is really a spectacular outcome.
I am very grateful to President Jahjaga for her personal engagement and leadership in informing the public of their rights and obligations when travelling to the Schengen area.
Yet, we all know that more needs to be done. Some of your compatriots have lost hope—and it is that hope that we must collectively restore in the coming months. We also need to address why people want to leave in the first place, and why they see no perspectives.
We all wish to live in a society based on the rule of law that allows each and every one of us to make a decent living.
My counterparts and I fully agree that Kosovo must now focus on entrenching the rule of law and creating jobs particularly for Kosovo’s youth, many of whom have recently tried their luck in Hungary, Austria, Germany and elsewhere.
The Government has assured me that job creation will be at the heart of its socio-economic policies. The European Commission is also financially contributing to the economic development of Kosovo.
I have received assurances from your authorities that all the laws recently adopted in the framework of the visa liberalisation dialogue will now be put to use to crack down on high-level corruption, particularly in the field of public procurement.
The Commission will pay particular attention to this area in its upcoming assessment of Kosovo’s performance in the visa dialogue.
This, of course, takes us to the question of visa-free travel.
I came to Kosovo in order to provide, to offer my help to the Government to ‘walk the last mile’ toward visa-free status.
Only with real results in high-profile corruption and organised crime cases and credible measures to prevent a repeat of the current migration crisis, will I be able to personally throw my weight behind persuading Member States that Kosovo citizens should, indeed, become visa-free.
That is why right now, I count on your Government’s unwavering commitment to reforms and your own dedication to turn Kosovo into the prosperous and fair society that you are, that we are hoping for.
So exactly in this framework and in this spirit we'll work together with the Ministers, the leadership of Kosovo. And allow me to tell you that I'm very, very optimistic for our future relations. And it's not far away the day that we shall be in a position to announce the date.