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José Manuel Durão Barroso
President of the European Commission
Statement by President Barroso following his meeting with Hashim Thaçi, Prime Minister of Kosovo
Pristina, 20 May 2011
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am very pleased to be here in Pristina today.
I had very useful meetings with President Jahjaga, Prime Minister Thaçi and various members of his Cabinet.
The purpose of my visit is clear: I am here to confirm our strong commitment to Kosovo's European perspective.
The Commission will continue to help Kosovo on "the road to Europe". We have provided substantial financial assistance and political advice over the last decade, and we will keep supporting you.
Today, Kosovo is the biggest recipient per capita of EU assistance in the whole world. This is a concrete and very clear signal of our continued engagement.
In 2009, the EU Commission put forward an ambitious vision for EU-Kosovo relations.
We have already taken forward a number of key initiatives. Last year, we launched a new Stabilisation and Association Process Dialogue and began Cross-border Cooperation for the first time with Albania and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.
We are also committed to moving forward to a strengthened trade relationship, launch a visa dialogue and open EU programmes to Kosovo's participation, provided Kosovo meets the required benchmarks.
But at the same time, Kosovo can – and must - also help itself in order to make progress towards its goal of EU membership. Kosovo must press forward with its reforms, with determination, political responsibility and a spirit of compromise.
More work is needed to strengthen the rule of law and public administration. You also need a strong economic programme and I have urged the Government to work together with the IMF on this.
Last but not least, I call on Kosovo to continue to engage constructively in the dialogue with Belgrade. There was another constructive meeting this week. It is high time for politicians on both sides to work together and find solutions to the many practical difficulties facing both Kosovars and Serbs in their everyday lives.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
These reform priorities are not abstract. But they are essential for the prosperity of your own citizens and thus in Kosovo's very own interest.
The European Commission will continue to strengthen its relationship with Kosovo, and continue its support. I have stressed this to the President, the Prime Minister and his Cabinet today. We are with you and we will work with you.
But ultimately, you hold the key to your own European future.
I am confident that Kosovo will demonstrate the necessary leadership to progress along this path. Thank you.