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Italian Republic Day in Pristina, Ambassador De Riu: “Italy full supports Kosovo’s Euro-Atlantic integration process”

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Italy’s full support for Kosovo’s Euro-Atlantic integration process was underlined by Ambassador in Pristina Antonello De Riu, who called for progress in the EU-facilitated dialogue on the normalisation of Kosovo’s relations with Serbia. “Achieving lasting peace and reconciliation is a complex process and the EU-facilitated dialogue remains essential to reach a vital agreement on the normalisation of relations between Kosovo and Serbia”, the Head of Mission said during the celebrations for the Italian Republic Day in Pristina last night.

“Italy will continue to support Kosovo in this crucial phase, helping it to integrate into Euro-Atlantic structures and other international mechanisms” De Riu added, referring to Italy’s leading role in KFOR, the NATO mission in Kosovo, of which our country has so far provided 13 of the 28 commanders. “The Italian contingent currently numbers 815 personnel, the largest in KFOR, a number that had risen to 1,500 during the deployment of the NATO Response Battalion between November and March”, the Ambassador noted, referring to the increased international risks linked in particular to the Russian military intervention in Ukraine.

De Riu also underlined the importance of bilateral economic relations, with Italy being Kosovo’s second trading partner among EU countries and sixth overall. The interest, he said, is to further intensify economic cooperation, together with that in the field of culture and education, with initiatives aimed at increasing the study of and interest in the Italian language.

With particular reference to the EU-facilitated dialogue with Belgrade, the Ambassador underlined that, on the basis of the Ohrid and Brussels agreements of last year, Serbia is called upon to fulfil its part and bring to justice those responsible for the terrorist attack in Banjska, while Kosovo is asked, among other things, to proceed without delay with the establishment of the Association of Serb majority Municipalities.

Kosovo Prime Minister Albin Kurti, who attended the ceremony, thanked Italy for its contribution to the construction of the state of Kosovo and for its support for Pristina’s European integration. “I thank Italy for its support for the independence and international recognition of Kosovo” Kurti said, underling  the intensity of diplomatic, economic and cultural relations between the two countries. The Prime Minister and the Ambassador made special mention of the forthcoming signing of an agreement between Italy and Kosovo on the mutual recognition of driving licences.

At the event with over than 400 guests, hosted in a hotel in Pristina, Italian gastronomic specialities were presented, thanks to the participation of chefs and culinary students from the I.P.S.E.O.A. “Tor Carbone – Alessandro Narducci”  Institute for Food, Wine and Hospitality Services in Rome. A special interpretation of the Italian and Kosovar national anthems was offered by the fanfare of the 1st Bersaglieri Regiment of the Italian Army. A message of congratulations on the occasion of the Republic Day was also sent by the President of Kosovo, Vjosa Osmani.

During the ceremony, Naim Gacaferi, Honorary Consul of Italy in Peja since 2020, was awarded the honour of Cavaliere dell’Ordine della Stella d’Italia (Knight of the Order of the Star of Italy) for his commitment in the furniture sector and for his support, often with personal resources, to numerous charitable activities, as well as for his valuable coordination with the Italian-led KFOR RC-WEST military command operating in the western part of Kosovo.

Ansa Press Agency