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03/12/2016

Kosovo still dreams of EU and NATO membership

Enlargement

Kosovo still dreams of EU and NATO membership

Kosovar Foreign Minister Enver Hoxhaj outlined his country's grand plans for the future.

[Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairs/Flickr]

Kosovo’s foreign affairs minister has reaffirmed his country’s ambitions to join both NATO and the European Union, in an interview with EurActiv Spain.

Speaking to Spanish journalists, Enver Hoxhaj outlined his country’s future plans for better relations with the EU and the Vatican, as well as ambitious plans to join NATO and the EU. However, he did say that Kosovo has “excellent relations with Turkey, as well as the Saudis and the other Gulf States. They supported us during some difficult times.”

He added that his country “appreciates Spain’s support at a European level; it means a lot that Madrid has not blocked Kosovo in this respect and I hope that they will be more open in the future to working with an independent Kosovo”.

On relations with the EU, Hoxhaj insisted that “in historical and geographical terms, Kosovo is a European country, and being a part of the EU means returning to Europe; we have historically felt a part of the European identity”.

The foreign minister explained that his country “is a small state and part of an uncertain world; to be a member of the EU is important for Kosovo’s security and stability, but also for economic growth”.

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Hoxhaj added that “being an EU member is the best way to modernise politics, the economy and society. For us, it is a modernising agenda that will allow us to compete with others in the region and to grow.”

Hoxhaj confirmed that Kosovo still has ambitions to join NATO, but admitted that “first, we have to carry out reform at home. We will take the first step next year and then we will see how things progress gradually.”

He added that Montenegro’s signing of an accession protocol in May of this year was an “important step for Kosovo and the region”. Kosovo intends to follow through on the progress that was made at the Warsaw summit in the summer.

Montenegro becomes NATO’s 29th member

NATO will sign an accession agreement with Montenegro today (19 May), paving the way for the small Balkan country to become the trans-Atlantic alliance’s 29th member state, Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said.

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Kosovo’s foreign affairs chief said that “the Balkans are now in a much better situation than ten years ago, we have gone through a transformation in terms of relations between states and nations. We’ve gone from hostility to cooperation”.

Hoxhaj proudly highlighted his country’s approach to global threats, explaining that “in the past year, no one from Kosovo has joined Daesh (ISIS)”.

He also confirmed that Kosovo is interested in establishing diplomatic relations with the Vatican, insisting that the Holy See is “much more important to us than it is for other Balkan countries, as the Vatican has been on the side of the Kosovars throughout history”.

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Kosovo, a former Serbian province that declared independence in 2008, but is still unrecognised by Belgrade, has warned against the candidacy of Vuk Jeremić, a former Serbian foreign minister, for UN Secretary General.

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Both sides have agreed to exchange representatives: Pristina will send an ambassador and the Vatican will dispatch a nuncio, otherwise known as an eclesiastical diplomat.

Hoxhaj concluded that Kosovo is a fan of Pope Francis, praising his “charisma and commitment”. He added that a potential visit by the Argentinian pontiff would be the “best possible message”.