Pristina, 9 November 2011 – On the occasion of his two-day working visit in the Republic of Kosovo, State Secretary Wolfgang Waldner held meetings with Jakup Krasniqi, President of the Assembly of Kosovo, Prime Minister Hashim Thaci, Vice Prime Minister Edita Tahiri, Foreign Minister Enver Hoxhaj, EU Integration Minister Vlora Citaku and leading representatives of the international community and KFOR.
The deliberations were focused on the European perspective of Kosovo, the situation in the north of the country and the dialogue with Serbia. Waldner stressed that Austria advocates the European perspective of Kosovo: “The current EU progress report confirms that the government is pursuing reforms with great persistence and consistently pushing ahead with the Europeanisation of the country. Of course there are still major challenges to master, for example relating to the rule of law or with regard to corruption and organised crime. And yet, we are convinced that the government will tackle these problems and that progress will be made”, the State Secretary said. In his talks with his discussion partners from Kosovo, he underlined that Austria will give every support to a visa dialogue with Kosovo also at EU level.
It goes without saying that North Kosovo was also discussed at large. In the northern part of the country with an ethnic Serb majority, there have been repeated conflicts with the local population since last summer, border crossings to Serbia were (and are still) blocked and road barriers have been erected.
“It is now first and foremost about removing the barricades from the streets and it is essential that the EU-sponsored dialogue between Pristina and Belgrade be resumed. Differences of opinion can only be solved at the negotiating table and not on the streets”, Waldner said and he demands that the deliberations be resumed soon. In the course of the dialogue between Kosovo and Serbia some important agreements were concluded this past summer. “It is decisive that these agreements are now fully implemented and that any unresolved issues are solved in the course of the dialogue. This is a win-win situation for both sides.“
The visit in Pristina was also used to exchange the ratification documents for the bilateral investment treaty between Austria and Kosovo. "This agreement guarantees more legal security for our companies which are investing in Kosovo and as such it is an incentive for Austrian business people to create more jobs here, which will in turn increase wealth in this young state“, Waldner said when signing the documents.
In his meetings with the commander of the KFOR NATO troops, German General Erhard Drews, and his representative, Austrian General Johann Luif, and the Austrian head of the OSCE Mission Werner Almhofer, Waldner was briefed on the general development in the country.
“Austria provides the biggest contingent of non-NATO troops in Kosovo. Austrian soldiers contribute to the stabilisation of the country and ensure safety and security for Kosovo’s people. Our contribution to the phased, step-by-step approach of Kosovo to the EU fills me with pride and is also greatly appreciated by the Kosovo people”, Waldner concluded.
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