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Talk by Mrs Kusari-Lila

       Kosovo's Path to EU & Economic Integration: Opportunities & Challenges



Thursday, 11 October 2012

Cañada Blanch Room, Cowdray House, LSE

Speaker Mrs Mimoza Kusari-Lila, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Trade & Industry, Kosovo
Chair Dr Vassilis Monastiriotis, LSEE Acting Director; Senior Lecturer, LSE

Photo5On Thursday 11 October 2012, LSEE-Research on South Eastern Europe hosted a talk by Mrs Mimoza Kusari-Lila, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Trade and Industry, Kosovo. In her talk, Mrs Kusari-Lila covered a range of issues, focusing however primarily on aspects related to the economy of Kosovo and especially on issues of economic policy and the European perspective. Mrs Kusari-Lila opened her talk by emphasising that Kosovo should be seen as part of a success story in the Balkans, a story which is predominantly about growth and development and increasingly less so about ethnic tensions and conflict management.

Photo3The DPM stressed that the priorities of the current government are to tackle the high levels of unemployment, especially among the country’s youth, and balance out the trade deficits that the economy registers. For both, a strategy of industrialization and modernisation is deemed essential.  Mrs Kusari-Lila referred in particular to policies that seek to promote the expansion of labour intensive industries, partly through foreign investment as well as through investments in agriculture that will help absorb the excess supply of labour power that characterises the economy. She also stressed that the government is making significant progress in the harmonisation of the domestic legal framework and the improvement of the local business environment, factors that are important in order to attract foreign investors and industrial activity from Europe and beyond. She also noted that Kosovo is trying to diversify its economic links, both within and outside existing regional processes, while maintaining and developing further its trade relations with the EU-which continues to be its main partner. A Free Trade Agreement has also been negotiated bilaterally between Kosovo and Turkey. She highlighted the Free Trade Agreement signed recently with Turkey-the first such agreement to have been negotiated bilaterally, without the direct involvement of the EU-but also stood firmly on Kosovo's policy of reciprocity concerning non-tariff barriers within CEFTA.

Photo1Kusari-LilaMoving on to issues besides the economy, Mrs Kusari-Lila emphasised the issue of visa liberalisation, arguing that it affects especially the young people in Kosovo who wish to travel and study abroad and through this enrich the social infrastructure and human capital base of Kosovo at large, upon their return back home. Regarding the north Kosovo issue, Mrs Kusari-Lila took the view that Serbia's stance is counter productive and actually undermines the welfare of Serbs in that area. She claimed that Serbs living elsewhere in Kosovo live peacefully in interethnic communities and argued that while Serbia is continuing to fund parallel institutions in the north the population there will not be able to integrate fully into the society in which they live.

Photo7_CrowdFollowing her presentation the floor was opened for questions, where the discussion extended to other issues including question concerning the extent and prevalence of corruption, problems of policy-making and governance owing to the presence of parallel international institutions within Kosovo, the limitations of a growth model that may be based on labour-intensive industries and agriculture, and others.