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Italian Undersecretary Della Vedova in Pristina: “Alongside Kosovo in his European path”

Italy is “very open” to Kosovo’s request to enter the Council of Europe in order to further strengthen the rule of law, human rights and the fight against corruption from an increasingly European perspective. This was affirmed by the Italian Undersecretary for Foreign Affairs, Benedetto Della Vedova, commenting from Pristina for “Agenzia Nova” today’s visit to the Balkan country, where he had several high-profile institutional meetings, including one with the Prime Minister Albin Kurti, the Deputy Foreign Minister Kreshnik Ahmeti, the Deputy Head of the Parliament Sara Bogujevci and a delegation of majority and opposition group leaders of the National Assembly. Afterwards, at the Embassy of Italy, he discussed with the Head of the EU Office in Kosovo Tomáš Szunyog as well as with a number of Kosovar civil society representatives.

“During my meetings today in Pristina, I reiterated Italy’s support to the Country and the fact that our presence and our investments, as well as the KFOR mission, are needed and we have always considered them an element of particular strategic value for our international politics”, Della Vedova underlines. “We support the European process of Kosovo and we encourage the continuous reforms of the rule of law, against corruption, the respect of human rights and everything that is necessary for the Country’s rapprochement with the EU”, he adds.

Regarding the recent request made in May by Pristina Authorities to join the Council of Europe, following Russia’s exit due to the war in Ukraine, the Undersecretary has clarified that Italy’s position is “very open” in that respect. The request explains the Undersecretary, is “reasonable and directed toward a fundamental element”, that of human rights and rule of law, which are the “pillars” of the Council of Europe. By joining the multilateral organization, Della Vedova underlines, the Country could “adhere to the European Court of Human Rights”.

Another key theme that emerged during the meetings held today by Della Vedova at various levels was that of the non-liberalization of visas in the European Union for Kosovar citizens, a sensitive political knot that has not been solved in the last EU-Western Balkans summit. “The position of Italy is clear and has been known for some time. We encourage the removal of visas and I believe that this is not a matter of technical nature rather a political question, because from a technical point of view, things have been done”, clarifies Della Vedova. “The question is completely political and I believe that what we should do is value the great commitment of Italy and of other European countries in Kosovo to avoid that due to this question – very sensitive at all levels, among NGOs, enterprises, institutions, scientific community and students, especially young people – emerges the risk into becoming an element of distrust for Kosovars, a perception that would have no reason to exist and that could become an advantage to other countries that want to extend their influence but that have not invested as much as we have”, remarks Della Vedova.

The Undersecretary perceived a “great conviction at all levels” with respect to Kosovo’s European path, despite the failure in the process of visa liberalization and of the formal negotiations for Albania’s and North Macedonia’s adhesion. “The atmosphere remains anything but depressed in this point of view, also because this particular moment has restarted the discussions regarding the EU enlargement to Ukraine and Moldova. We have put our energies back into motion and we must not waste this moment, which could have significant consequences. I have not found discouragement but renewed energy”, continues the Undersecretary.

Della Vedova also focused on the Kosovo and Serbia dialogue for the normalization of relations, taking place through the mediation of the EU. In this context, the Undersecretary refers that he reiterated “the confidence in supporting this process and our expectation in this respect, namely a sincere commitment from the Kosovar leadership, and the hope for a symmetric position on the Serbian side, so that they can significantly progress as we aspire”. Finally, the Undersecretary has very much appreciated the meeting he had with Kurti, which was not certain due to the agenda of the Head of Government. “It was an element of great recognition for what Italy has done and for what it can continue to do in order to achieve some progress also in the context of negotiations between Serbia and Kosovo”.

The interview on Nova website