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Fifth meeting of the EUís Kosovo SAp Tracking Mechanism

Brussels, 17 September 2004 - The fifth meeting of the Stabilisation and Association process (SAP) Tracking Mechanism for Kosovo (STM) took place in Brussels today, PM Office reported. The purpose of the STM is to support Kosovo in EU-compatible reforms to keep it on track in its progress towards Europe. The meeting brought together officials from the European Commission, the UN Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) and the Kosovo Provisional Institutions of Self Government (PISG) to discuss the European Partnership which sets out short and medium term priorities for the province and the follow-up to the Thessaloniki Agenda , which helps all parts of the region prepare for closer European integration.

Participants discussed issues related to the environment, economic development and participation of Kosovo in regional initiatives such as the Regional Energy Market, the South Eastern European Transport Network and Free Trade Agreements. The meeting emphasised the need to tackle the conditions which contributed to the tragic events of March 2004 and democracy, the rule of law, the rights of minority communities and local self-government were important items on the agenda. This is the first time that the STM has met in Brussels. The European Commission was particularly keen to highlight the importance that the European Union attaches to the protection of the rights of all communities in Kosovo. The participants stressed the mutually reinforcing character of the STM and the Kosovo Standards.

The delegations were headed, for Kosovo, by the Special Representative of the UN Secretary General, Mr. SÝren Jessen-Petersen and the Prime Minister of Kosovo, Mr. Bajram Rexhepi. They were accompanied by experts from UNMIK and the PISG. Mr. Reinhard Priebe, Director for Western Balkans at the European Commission, led the European Commission team. The meeting was held in the presence of Mr Tony Agotha who is the representative of the rotating Presidency of the EU Council of Ministers, currently held by the Dutch, and delegates from EU Member States. The Head of the EC Liaison Office, Mr Giorgio Mamberto, the personal representative of the HR/SG Mr Fernando Gentilini and Mr Michael Byrne from the European Agency for Reconstruction were also present.

Background: Kosovo, under United Nations Security Council Resolution 1244, benefits from the instruments of the SAp, including financial aid of over Ä1 billion through the CARDS program, far-reaching trade concessions and regional cooperation measures. Taken together with the bi-lateral contributions of the EU Member States this brings the total EU contribution to Kosovo to around Ä 2 billion. The SAp Tracking Mechanism (STM) for Kosovo is a joint technical working group of UNMIK, the Provisional Institutions of Self-Government (PISG) and the European Commission, in the framework of the EUís Stabilisation and Association Process. Its purpose is to support Kosovo in its EU-compatible structural reforms through policy advice and guidance. This will help to keep Kosovo firmly on track in its progress towards Europe. The Stabilisation and Association Process (SAp) is the EUís framework for relations with the Western Balkans region. The objective of the process is the stabilisation of the region through political and economic reforms, underpinning progress towards the European Union.

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