EU Special Representative to Kosovo Pieter Feith has called on all Kosovo citizens, especially the Serbs, to vote in the coming local elections on November 15.
Speaking at a meeting titled “Independent Kosovo and the EU” in Vienna yesterday, he welcomed the fact that an increasing number of Serb political representatives were expressing their willingness to participate in the elections.
Feith said that it was a chance to strengthen multi-ethnic ties in Kosovo, adding that the elections must be fair and transparent, and that the EU was prepared to provide support through monitoring.
He stated that plans to reduce the international presence in Kosovo were progressing, saying that it was proof of trust in the stability of Kosovo and the region.
Feith stressed that organized crime and corruption in Kosovo had to be curbed.
He said that the European Commission would be publishing its progress report soon, which would reflect the situation and enable further steps in Kosovo’s European integration.
Feith stated that the EU had become a key partner to the Kosovo authorities in all areas, and that close cooperation was necessary, adding that the role of the EU mission was growing stronger in the north of Kosovo as well, where it was striving to establish a permanent presence through the planned European House.
Kosovo Economy and Finance Minister Ahmet Shala urged the international community to allow the Kosovo people to assume greater responsibility for their future.
Shala said that visa liberalization for Serbia could lead to a further exodus of Serbs from Kosovo, which was a barrier to the goal of a multi-ethnic Kosovo.
Former EU envoy to the Kosovo status talks Stefan Lehne discussed the difficult process of addressing this issue, stressing that it had been tackled in an unclear manner, which continued to slow Kosovo’s progress.
According to Lehne, UN envoy Martti Ahtisaari believed that the UN Security Council would adopt his proposal, which would have created a lucid situation.
He stressed that the blurred situation was not only impeding Kosovo’s progress, but Serbia’s too in implementing her true interests.
Lehne stressed that the attacks on EULEX were counterproductive.
He warned the Kosovo authorities of the big problem with corruption, adding that this problem would soon be tackled head on, which would affect a large number of powerful individuals.