Question: The European Parliament has taken a position on the Commission’s 2021 report on Kosovo. In it, MEPs call for more EU support for Kosovo and demand Kosovo to be recognised by all EU Member States. What is the reason why the majority of EU Member States still refuse to recognise Kosovo’s independence?
Answer: I am deeply concerned that, as in case of Georgia, we are failing to support our friends at a time of great instability, when we need it most. It is unacceptable that Kosovo remains unrecognised by some of our Member States, for reasons that have more to do with perceived domestic political pressures than with issues of Kosovo’s sovereignty.
Q: The issue of non-recognition has raised the problem that there is still no free movement of Kosovars within the European Union, which unfortunately serves to underline their alienation from the EU and encourages them to seek support elsewhere. The EU should have recognised that danger a long time ago. Why hasn’t this happened?
Answer: I see a real danger that, by focusing on Russian aggression in Ukraine, we are losing sight of the needs of Kosovo and the Western Balkan countries that are waiting for membership. My personal view is that the EU’s foreign policy direction is so far has been focusing on managing the overwhelming crisis of the war in Ukraine to be able to overcome it, that lacks the strength to develop and support our foreign policy objectives in other regions.
Q: You have good personal relations with members of the Kosovo government. You recently hosted Emilija Redzepi, Deputy Prime Minister of the Kosovo government, in Brussels. How committed do you see the current Kosovo government to EU accession?
Answer. As far as I have been able to see in this area, Kosovo is committed to promoting EU-related reforms, with an overwhelming consensus among political parties. I also see an overwhelming majority of public opinion in favour of European integration and European identity. The situation is fortunate as, following the general elections, the government has a strong majority in the Kosovo parliament and the government is able to use its stable majority to urgently promote the necessary reforms.
I am also convinced that they are determined to be good and constructive partners with Member States and to strengthen their economies and governance through ever closer cooperation. The Kosovo government has made commendable progress in fighting corruption, enforcing the rule of law and promoting economic development.
It is time to take our relationship to the next level and help bring stability and prosperity to a people who have struggled to enjoy the benefits we take for granted.
Thank you for the interview
Photo: Emilija Redzepi, Deputy Prime Minister of the Kosovo government and Lars Patrick Berg, MEP