“The European Union is not just a political and economic union. It is a peacebuilding project, created in the aftermath of World War II, with an aim to promote peace, stability and prosperity in Europe,” said today in Pristina the EU Ambassador in Kosovo, Tomas Szunyog, as he took part in the Europe Day celebrations activities.
“In the Western Balkans, the EU plays a crucial role in promoting dialogue and reconciliation, particularly between Kosovo and Serbia.
“It is paramount that the negotiations on normalization of relations between both Parties continue under the auspices of the EU-facilitated Dialogue and that it brings lasting solutions for the benefit of the population on the ground, all while building bridges between communities,” he added.
Though challenging, last year brought several breakthroughs including the visa-free travel for Kosovans in the Schengen zone as of 1 January 2024.
“Unresolved issue of visa-liberalisation has been a dark cloud over the EU-Kosovo relations for the past decade, and it gives me great joy to say that as of 1 January 2024, Kosovans will no longer need visas for short-term touristic visits to the Schengen zone,” noted Szunyog, thanking Czech and Swedish Presidencies of the Council of the European Union for their contribution in this regard.
Another miles stone are the three IPA financing agreements signed between the EU and Kosovo, including the Energy Support Package, resulting in the EU providing to Kosovo more than EUR 200 million as direct financial assistance, just over the last several months.
“The overall EU’s financial assistance provided to Kosovo under IPA, i.e. the EU’s Instrument for Pre-accession Assistance, from 2007 to date, has surpassed 1.4 billion euros. It is being utilised to help Kosovo, among other, to develop its economy and infrastructure, improve education and environmental protection, and align its legislation with the EU acquis,” said Szunyog.
Both our financial assistance and expert support are geared toward advancing Kosovo on its EU integration path. I hope that by the next year’s Europe Day, we will have even more positive developments to celebrate, he concluded wishing all a happy Europe Day.