Minister Hoxha: We have done our homework, we are awaiting decision-making from EU
Prishtina, 28 March 2018 - Today, the Minister of European Integration, Dhurata Hoxha, has reported to the Parliamentary Committee for European Integration regarding the fulfilment of visa liberalization criteria. Minister stressed that visa regime will be liberalized during this year, because the criterion for combating organized crime and corruption has been met as well, so we have done our homework, and we are awaiting decision-making from EU.
In June 2012, Kosovo received the visa liberalization roadmap, which contained 95 criteria that needed to be fulfilled, said Minister Hoxha.
"Since then, Kosovo's institutions have been subject to the most rigorous assessment that is ever applied by the EU in the framework of visa liberalization. Through an intensive work, we have managed to convince EU institutions that Kosovo has the capacity to implement its obligations under the European integration process. We have proven that beyond rhetoric and promises, we are able to take measures and translate it to concrete results as an equal partner with the European Union.
Furthermore, Minister Hoxha stressed that the European Commission has made four assessments regarding the fulfilment of priorities deriving from the Visa Liberalization Roadmap, namely, in February 2013, July 2014, December 2015 and in May 2016.
"The latest report of May 2016 has assessed that all the criteria have been met and the European Commission will make a proposal for amending-supplementing the Regulation 539/2001 on visa liberalization with Kosovo. The report at the same time underlined that until the day of approval of the proposal for amending-supplementing the Regulation 539/2001, Kosovo will ratify the demarcation agreement with Montenegro and will make progress in combating organized crime and corruption", noted Minister Hoxha.
Minister Hoxha said that in this context, on 21 March, the Assembly also met the key remaining criterion - the ratification of demarcation with Montenegro. "On this occasion I would like to thank all the deputies of the Assembly of the Republic of Kosovo who voted for and enabled the fulfilment of this key criterion, and thus accelerating the free movement of citizens", said Minister Hoxha.
"In the light of President Juncker's visit, Kosovo institutions have submitted the report on fulfilment of the second criterion, namely the continuation of the fight against organized crime and corruption. Within the Joint Team for Combating Serious Crimes, namely the Special Prosecution: were earmarked 39 cases, were filed 30 indictments, 23 cases are in different stages of the judicial process, 7 cases have been concluded in the form of a final decision", said the Minister.
"Our assessment is that for the purposes of visa liberalization, the criterion of the fight against corruption and organized crime, is fulfilled. Of course, we are aware that the fight against this phenomenon should be intensified even more, as the progress in this field is first of all in the interest of our citizens, and then of the European Union", said Minister Hoxha.
Minister Hoxha also spoke about the next steps.
"Our goal is to complete all the necessary EU institutional procedures during this year in order to ensure the amendment-supplement of Regulation 539/2001 of the European Union and therefore the free movement of citizens of the Republic of Kosovo", said Minister Hoxha.
The steps, according to the Minister, are seven and are as follows: Commencement of Negotiations for amending-supplementing the Regulation 539/2001 between the three main EU institutions, the European Commission, the Council of the European Union and the European Parliament, Approval of the Regulation at the plenary session of the European Parliament, Approval of the Regulation by the Council of Ministers, Signing ceremony, Publication in the Official Gazette and Entry into force.
"We expect the entire procedure not to take longer than 6 months. This is a timely experience in the case of Georgia. However, it should be underlined that Kosovo institutions have now completed their duties and responsibility is on the side of EU institutions to take institutional steps in the shortest time possible", said Minister Hoxha.
Voting in the Council will be based on a double majority - or in other words, have to vote 16 Member States representing at least 65% of the EU population, said Minister Hoxha, by adding that at the plenary session of European Parliament, the voting will be done by simple majority in the first reading and in second reading with absolute majority.
"We still have a lot of work and the process will continue according to the respective procedures, I as Minister of European Integration, will continue the intensive work and will cooperate with all state institutions to conclude the visa liberalization process", said the Minister.
Afterwards the members of the Parliamentary Committee also asked other questions regarding the visa liberalization, and Minister Hoxha responded to the questions in accordance with the situation and engagement that is being made in this process. We have done our homework, we are awaiting decision-making from EU, said Minister Hoxha.