U.S., EU welcome protocol signing

KOSOVO

The United States and the EU have welcomed the signing of a police cooperation protocol between MUP and EULEX.

EU representative in Kosovo Pieter Feith was quoted as saying this morning that he is convinced the agreement does not violate “Kosovo’s sovereignty” and that the Ahtisaari package allows the EU mission to sign such documents.

“The protocol does not violate the sovereignty of Kosovo,” said he, and added that “soon there will be the second phase of regional cooperation concerning customs”.

He told Albanian language daily Koha Ditore that cooperation pertaining to customs is “very important, since customs only exist where there are borders”.

“As the international civilian representative I tell you this will benefit the sovereignty of Kosovo,” Feith was quoted as saying.

The diplomat also said that EULEX is not status-neutral.

“EULEX is not status-neutral. It operates under the UN umbrella, which is status neutral, but that does not make EULEX status-neutral. The reality is that EULEX is supported by 27 EU member states, of which five have not recognized Kosovo, but they are still EU member state,” said he.

The United States, meanwhile, also voiced their support for the agreement.

A U.S. State Department statement issued by spokesman Ian Kelly says that Washington hopes the police cooperation enabled with this agreement will “help combat cross-border crime in the Western Balkans region”, something advocated by “both Kosovo and the United States”.

America is satisfied with EULEX’s participation and welcomes this mission because of fulfillment of its mandate that has been approved by Kosovo authorities, said the statement.

It further adds that the “technical agreement between EULEX and the Serb Ministry of the Interior fully respects the sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of Kosovo”.

In Kosovo, ethnic Albanian NGOs, including Albin Kurti’s Self-Determination Movement, have announced protests for Wednesday.

Kosovo’s president and prime minister, Fatmir Sejdiu and Hashim Thaci, are quoted by the local press as saying that they are convinced the protocol does not violate “Kosovo’s sovereignty”, and that for this reasons they withdrew their previously voiced opposition to the signing of the document.

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