Minister Ahmetaj's speech for meeting with the SAA Parliamentary Committee
Dear Mr. Picula,
Dear Mr. Haliti,
Dear Prime Minister Mustafa,
Dear Mrs. Apostolova,
Dear members of the Stabilization and Association Parliamentary Committee,
Ladies and gentleman,
I am pleased to address you today on the occasion of the next meeting of the SAA Parliamentary Commission.
The role of the Parliamentary Commission is essential in monitoring the implementation of the SAA and the overall performance of the European integration process, therefore allow me to update you on the recent developments in the framework of the European integration process, and in particular on the Stabilization and Association process.
In the framework of the visa liberalization process, considerable progress has been made in meeting the criteria for combating corruption. The team chaired by the Chief Prosecutor of the Special Prosecution has so far targeted 34 cases and filed 26 indictments, of which: 4 have received final Decisions; 2 of the first instance; while, other cases are at different stages of court proceeding.
In order to strengthen the judicial system, the Kosovo Judicial Council is in the process of recruiting 61 judges. We are in the process of building the capacities of the Special Prosecution by supplementing the Law on State Prosecution in order to allow the increase of the number of prosecutors in the Special Prosecution Office.
It should also be noted that compared to 2016, the justice system budget has increased by 9%. It is worth noting that the number of asylum seekers has dropped drastically from 2015 to 2016. While the number of beneficiaries from the Reintegration Fund has increased for 100%.
Regarding the implementation of the SAA, following the Stabilization and Association Council meeting in November last year, Kosovo and EU institutions have held 8 meetings of subcommittees and special groups in different areas of the European integration process. By the end of this year, both the Stabilization and Association Committee and the second meeting of the Stabilization and Association Council will be held.
This week, the Assembly approved the SAA Implementation Program which foresees the implementation of around 900 legislative and implementing measures for which the state budget in the amount of 485 million EURO was allocated. The program has envisaged implementing measures for each respective article of the SAA. The Ministry of European Integration will come up with the first implementation evaluation report by the end of this month.
During this year, we launched the SAA Communication Campaign, where for five weeks 5 video clips were broadcast on national televisions with information on what the SAA for citizens, students, businesses and the judiciary is, as well as broadcasting messages to radio stations, Web-portals and social media. Information brochures were also distributed and 80 billboards were displayed in different municipalities of Kosovo.
Another important development in the context of the SAA implementation is the launch and implementation of key priority policies foreseen by the European Reform Agenda namely ERA. The key elements within the ERA implementation are:
- Approval of the Law on Prevention of Conflict of Interest;
- Approval of the Law on Salaries, Civil Service and the State Administration;
- Approval of legislation on the suspension and / or removal of public officials who have indictments or are convicted of corruption offenses;
- Publication and audit of political parties' finances and supplementation of the Law on Financing Political Entities;
- Adoption of the Law on Higher Education.
It is planned to hold the second High Level Dialogue meeting on Implementation of key Priorities in the first half of 2017, whereby the progress achieved will be analyzed.
Last year another great achievement in the framework of Kosovo's integration process was marked by signing the framework agreement for Kosovo's participation in EU programs. The government has already taken the decision to start membership negotiations in the 4 EU Programs: COSME, Europe for Citizens, ERASMUS and Creative Europe. Participation in these programs will bring students, academia, businesses, civil society and artistic and creative community closer to the European Union.
From the perspective of EU or IPA assistance, Kosovo institutions in co-operation with the European Commission are assuring that EU assistance of around EUR 80 million per year will support key reforms envisaged under the SAA. In this regard, we have finalized the IPA 2016 negotiation in the amount of EUR 70.5 million, where EUR 45.5 million are going to support reforms to increase competitiveness and support for businesses, education and employment, as well as human rights. While we are still in negotiations for direct support in the amount of EUR 25 million in the public administration reform