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France and Kosovo

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Kosovo – Statement issued by Harlem Désir on the signing of the Stabilization and Association Agreement with the European Union (Strasbourg, October 27, 2015)

I welcome the signing of the Stabilization and Association Agreement between the EU and Kosovo on Tuesday October 27. This is an important milestone which confirms the EU’s full commitment to supporting Kosovo in its efforts to implement the reforms needed to continue its European rapprochement.

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Political relations

France recognized Kosovo on 18 February 2008, the day after its declaration of independence. It was actively involved in settling the issues surrounding Kosovo, firstly as a member of the Contact Group, the group of States responsible for monitoring the UN supervision of Kosovo, then, after 2004, in the negotiations on its status led by the Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General.

France remains actively present on the ground and is one of the main contributors to the European Union Rule of Law Mission, EULEX (21 people). The Deputy Head of EULEX, Ms Joëlle Vachter, a colonel in the French Gendarmerie, comes from France. France also contributes to the NATO force KFOR (10 people), although it decided to withdraw most of its contingent in 2014 in view of its other external commitments. The OSCE Mission in Kosovo is led by a French diplomat, Mr Jean-Claude Schlumberger.

France and Kosovo maintain close political dialogue. The Kosovan Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr Enver Hoxhaj, visited France on four occasions between 2011 and 2014. The Kosovan Minister of European Integration, Ms Vlora Citaku, met with her French counterpart, Mr Thierry Repentin, on 21 November 2013. The Kosovan Minister of the Interior, Mr Bajram Rexhepi, met with his French counterpart, Mr Manuel Valls, on 18 November 2013. The President of Kosovo, Ms Atifete Jahjaga, visited France on 5 May 2014 for the Global Summit of Women. She met with the French Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr Laurent Fabius.

The Minister of the Interior, Mr Skender Hyseni, met with his counterpart, Mr Bernard Cazeneuve, in Paris on 11 March 2015. On 7 April 2015, Mr Bekim Çollaku, the Kosovan Minister of European Integration, met with the French Minister of State for European Affairs, Mr Harlem Désir. The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr Hashim Thaci, met with his French counterpart, Mr Laurent Fabius, in Paris on 8 June 2015.

The last time that the Kosovan Prime Minister visited France was on 8 June 2009, when Mr Hashim Thaci met with the then President of the French Republic, Mr Nicolas Sarkozy.

The President of the French Republic, Mr François Hollande, met with his Kosovan counterpart alongside the Brdo regional summit in Slovenia (25 July 2013). On this occasion, the President emphasized France’s wish to play a more active role in the region, in political and economic terms. Immediately afterwards, the French Minister of Foreign Affairs appointed Mr Alain Richard, a French Senator and the former Minister of Defence, as the Special Representative for economic diplomacy in the Balkans. Mr Richard visited Kosovo in January 2014.

The French Minister Delegate for European Affairs, Mr Thierry Repentin, visited Kosovo on 3 September 2013. On this occasion, he met with the Prime Minister, Hashim Thaci, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Enver Hoxhaj, and the Minister of European Integration, Vlora Citaku. He also travelled to Gracanica, where he met with Father Sava, abbot of the monastery of Decani.

A delegation of French deputies from the France-Kosovo friendship group visited Prishtina from 30 March to 4 April 2015.

Economic relations

France made a significant contribution to Kosovan reconstruction projects.
However, since the 2008 crisis, our trading has halved. France ranked 21st among Kosovo’s trade partners in 2014, accounting for 1.2% of its trade.
France’s exports mainly involve capital goods, while its imports are mainly textiles.

French companies that are currently present in Kosovo in the context of development projects include Alstom Grid (formerly Areva T&D), Alstom, Freyssinet, Egis Route, Alcatel-Lucent and Interex (a subsidiary of Intermarché), Aéroports de Lyon, which is collaborating with the Turkish structural engineering firm Limak on the expansion and operation of Prishtina International Airport, BNP Paribas (via its share in the Turkish bank TEB) and Saatchi & Saatchi. We frequently provide consulting and expertise in many sectors including roads, telecommunications, development and communication.

Cultural, scientific and technical cooperation

In Kosovo, France runs cooperation projects focusing on the environment, water and law. It also runs cultural projects that are renowned on the Kosovan cultural scene, involving activities in the fields of cinema, music, heritage, and the promotion of French language teaching and the French-speaking world. Our cultural action in Kosovo is supported by the Alliance Française in Prishtina (formerly the Espace Culturel Français).

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Updated: 26/11/2015

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