EEAS Deputy Secretary General for Peace, Security and Defence concludes visit to Kosovo

31 May 2023

On 31 May, the Deputy Secretary General (DSG) for Peace, Security and Defence of the European External Action Service (EEAS), Charles Fries, concluded his two- day visit to Kosovo. This official visit was an opportunity for DSG Fries to meet with the Kosovo authorities and receive first-hand information on the rule-of-law and security situation in Kosovo. During the visit, he also took stock of the work of the European Union Rule of Law Mission in Kosovo (EULEX) to support Kosovo’s institutions, thanks to in-depth briefings by EULEX staff. Accompanied by the Head of EULEX, Lars-Gunnar Wigemark, and the Head of the European Union Office in Kosovo/EUSR, Tomáš Szunyog, DSG Fries started his visit on 30 May by meeting the Kosovo President, Vjosa Osmani-Sadriu, with whom he discussed key rule of law issues with a focus on the current security situation in northern Kosovo. During the meeting, DSG Fries reiterated the need for both parties to engage in the EU-facilitated Dialogue to find a sustainable solution which guarantees safety and security for everyone and paves the way for the implementation of the new Agreement on the Path to Normalisation of Relations between Kosovo and Serbia.

The DSG met afterwards with the First Deputy Prime Minister for European Integration, Development and Dialogue, Besnik Bislimi, with whom he discussed the progress of Kosovo vis-à-vis the European Agenda, expressing at the same time appreciation for the full alignment of Kosovo with the EU’s Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP).

Later, the DSG held a meeting with the Minister of Justice, Albulena Haxhiu, which focused on the importance of the ongoing justice reform, Kosovo’s commitment to addressing the fight against gender-based and domestic violence, as well as its commitment to dealing with the issue of war crimes.

DSG Fries also exchanged views about the current security situation with the Commander of the NATO Kosovo Force - KFOR, Major General Michele Ristuccia. He expressed his solidarity with the KFOR troops injured in the line of duty during the recent violent clashes in Zvečan/Zveçan.

During the first day, DSG Fries also had the chance to visit EULEX’s premises in Fushë-Kosovë/Kosovo Polje, as well as the Mission’s Headquarters in Pristina, where he received an in-depth briefing by the Head of EULEX and other Mission staff on EULEX’s work in supporting rule of law institutions in Kosovo.

On the second and last day of his visit, DSG Fries held a meeting in Pristina with the Kosovo Minister of Internal Affairs, Xhelal Sveçla, with whom he discussed the security developments in northern Kosovo, reiterating the urgent call of the High Representative/Vice President for the European Commission, Josep Borrell, for measures to be taken to de-escalate tensions immediately and unconditionally, to avoid any further unilateral action and to restore calm.

The DSG also visited the EULEX Center Mitrovica, where he attended a display by EULEX’s Formed Police Unit.

He later moved to northern Kosovo, where, after a short walk along the bridge, he met with the Deputy Commander of the Regional Directorate of the Kosovo Police in Mitrovica North, Veton Elshani.

The Deputy Secretary General also exchanged views with representatives of civil society organizations which are based in northern Kosovo, who shared their deep concern about the current security environment.

While in northern Kosovo, DSG Fries also had a meeting with the leadership of Srpska Lista, namely Goran Rakić and Igor Simić.

He concluded his visit by meeting Kosovo’s Second Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs and Diaspora, Donika Gërvalla-Schwarz, in Pristina. During the meeting, DSG Fries reiterated the appreciation for the alignment of Kosovo with CFSP, while acknowledging the solidarity expressed by Kosovo to Ukraine.