President Thaçi: Sofia Summit confirms the European perspective for the whole Western Balkans

Prishtina, May 18th 2018 – President of the Republic of Kosovo, Hashim Thaçi, after his return from Bulgaria, said that Sofia Summit has confirmed the European perspective for the whole Western Balkans.

President Thaçi said that Summit has concentrated in concrete discussions related to the issue of connectivity between the states of the Western Balkans and EU, as well as in issues of security challenges, terrorism, organised crime and illegal migration.

“The connectivity issue has been expanded to include not only roads and railways, but also digital infrastructure, the energy sector as well as the education sector. IN the digital field, discussions were held on the expansion of cooperation in the technology sector, including the issues of lowering of roaming tariffs, e-governance, e-procurement and industrial digitalization. As far as the field of education is concerned, decision was taken to double the regional funding for Erasmus-Plus programme. Leaders of the EU member states have approved the Sofia Declaration, with leaders of the Western Balkan states aligned behind it as well”, said the President.

President Thaçi stated that Kosovo’s participation at this summit was historic.

 “It is the first time that Kosovo participates at a Summit of such a level as a state, equal with all the other Western Balkan states. It was a great diplomatic victory for Kosovo and all the EU member countries which recognise Kosovo. We are grateful to the hosts, particularly in person to the Prime Minister Borisov of Bulgaria, but also to the leaders of the EU member states, leaders of the EU institutions, who made it clear that Kosovo must be represented as equal with the rest of the other states. Kosovo was represented in a dignified manner and had the opportunity to present its positive and concrete results in all discussed subjects. Above all it became clear, that despite challenges, despite the destruction that Kosovo suffered during the war, it managed to recuperate quickly as a state, and is today ready to catch up with the rest of the regional states in its path towards EU”, pointed out President Thaçi. 

At the Summit margins, President stated that he has had bilateral meetings with leaders of EU member states, such as Belgium, Denmark and Sweden, and has had separate meetings with the Prime Minister of Greece, the President of France and the German Chancellor.

“Chancellor Merkel’s genuine interest on Kosovo and the region was seen once again with her endeavour to get us together with the President of Serbia, which reiterated our determination to commence with the final stage of the dialogue, which would result with a legally binding agreement for all parties and with mutual recognition between us. I have also met with the leaders of Western Balkan countries and at all these meetings the determination to jointly move ahead towards EU integration was emphasized” said President Thaçi.

The head of state also said that Sofia Declaration, agreed between the EU member states and in consultation with the Western Balkan states, contains few interesting points.

“Declarations main point is Point 2, which clearly states that EU reaffirms unequivocal support for the European perspective of the Western Balkans. The other of its points , it calls for continuation of reforms in all relevant fields, as are the building of the democratic institutions, rule of law, protection and respect of human rights. It also calls for the cooperation and good neighbourly relations. All these were clearly elaborated at the annex, called the Sofia Priority Agenda, added President Thaçi.

President also stated that Western Balkan leaders also signed the Declaration of support to the Western Balkan Digital Agenda at the Sofia Summit.