60th anniversary of the Rome Treaty
Honoured Xhavit Haliti, Vice President of the Assembly of Kosovo
Honoured Ramiz Kelmendi, Deputy Prime Minister of Kosovo
Honoured Nataliya Apostolova, Head of EU Office in Kosovo/ European Union Special Representative
Honoured Piero Sardi, Ambassador of the Republic of Italy to Kosovo
Ladies and gentlemen,
The project of the European Union since the end of the Second World War has become the most advanced peace project humanity has ever seen, giving the Europeans a unique opportunity to live more prosper, wealthier, peacefully and under democratic values. It made the old continent an important global economic and political power and a model that many want to follow, including Kosovo.
Many nations from Eastern Europe which were under the rule of communist regimes took the difficult path to become a member of the EU in 2004 and later 2007. They dream for a better life and stronger Europe became true.
In the 60th anniversary of the Rome Treaty, also Kosovo shares the same ambition, to be among the equals of Europe. We know that this is not an easy path, it requires a lot of energy, commitment and consistency from all of us, but the price is worth to be part of Europe, as once said the former German Foreign Minister Westerwelle.
Europe itself is undergoing some challenges, which will show how strong the European Union is. The upcoming elections in France and Germany are a referendum for the future of the EU, and so for our membership aspiration as well.
It is nothing new if I state that Balkans are undergoing through difficult challenges, such as aggravated political relations between countries of the region. Third actors are trying to get more involved in the region by using the enlargement fatigue the EU has showed in recent years. We welcome the message from Rome the EU leaders sent that the EU remains open for future enlargements, but we need more actions than words.
Next year Bulgaria and Austria will take the EU Presidency. As countries close to the region we hope they will give a re-commitment to the Thessaloniki declaration, by opening the negotiations talks with all countries of the region. It is much easier for the EU to influence the reforms in the region through negotiations chapter-by-chapter rather than the current process of reforms that has shown to be slow and often as some cases have shown in the region, it can take backwards steps.
After Brexit, refugee crises, terrorism threats and other challenges that the EU is facing, enlargement and not only deepening of the relations between EU member states, should be the key solution to the situation we are living in. It is a momentum to use now or lose forever.
Despite the discussions for the future of the EU on a one, two, or multispeed Europe, we need the EU to remain a single political and economic union. It needs to step up the efforts to bring Kosovo closer to the EU, and it needs to be more active in the region by hindering third actors to take positions in the region. It is unfortunate that the European Union has not given focus to the enlargement and to the Western Balkan countries in its white paper about the future of the EU. An EU without the Western Balkans as members will not succeed.
In this anniversary, I truly wish that my people will soon be able to travel freely throughout Europe and won’t be isolated any longer as isolation and walls are not the answer to the threats that civilization is facing.
It’s now or never…the EU needs Kosovo and Balkans the same as the Balkans need the EU for a better political stability, economic prosperity and more security for the region and the whole world. Expression of concern is not what we need from Brussels; we need real actions and measures in order to anchor the shaking Balkans to the EU.
We don’t need to go back in the XIX century but we need to live the Europe of the XXI century. In order to avoid an accidental repetition of history we need a more active Europe in Kosovo and the region. It is essential for us to be a region of cooperation and not of conflicts, something that Kosovo is dedicated to.
As President Juncker said: “For all these years, we’re not proud enough of what we’ve achieved in Europe.” therefore, the EU without the Balkan countries is not finished business.
Let’s hope that the European will find the courage to overcome the current challenges this year, and open the path for a new impetus to the enlargement process by having a clear goal to bring the countries of the region closer to the EU. We need no empty words, but concrete actions.