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Minister Tuppurainen visited Western Balkans to discuss EU integration and security situation in Europe

Government Communications Department
Publication date 5.7.2022 15.18 | Published in English on 5.7.2022 at 16.02
Press release 431/2022
Minister Tuppurainen at a meeting table

Minister for European Affairs and Ownership Steering Tytti Tuppurainen visited Kosovo, North Macedonia and Albania on 3–5 July. Minister Tuppurainen visited the region together with Thomas Byrne, Ireland’s Minister of State for European Affairs. The purpose of the visit was to promote the EU integration of Western Balkan countries and discuss the security situation in Europe.

The programme for Monday 4 July included meetings with Kosovo’s Prime Minister Albin Kurti and Besnik Bislimi, First Deputy Prime Minister responsible for European affairs, in Pristina, the capital of Kosovo. Finland supports the convergence of Kosovo with Europe and the country’s pursuit to become a Member of the Council of Europe. Normal relations between Kosovo and Serbia are among the key prerequisites for the progress of EU integration. To achieve this, dialogue between the countries and willingness to make compromises are particularly important.
 
All Western Balkan countries have been granted an EU membership perspective. However, Kosovo is the only Western Balkans country with no visa-free travel to the Schengen area. Finland supports visa-free travel for Kosovo and, together with ten other EU Member States, has appealed that this would soon be put before the Council of the European Union.
 
“The bilateral relations between Finland and Kosovo are excellent. Kosovo has for several years fulfilled the criteria for visa-free travel to the Schengen area, and Finland wishes to help to make this a reality as soon as possible,” Minister Tuppurainen says.
 
The agenda for Monday 4 July also included meetings with North Macedonia’s President Stevo Pendarovski and Bojan Marichic, Deputy Prime Minister for European Affairs, in Skopje, the capital of North Macedonia.
 
Finland considers that the EU accession negotiations with North Macedonia should be started without delay. Finland has also expressed its strong support for North Macedonia’s Chairmanship of OSCE next year and its membership in the UN Human Rights Council in 2025–2027. North Macedonia has given strong support for Finland’s membership in NATO and has promised to ratify the application very fast. Minister Tuppurainen thanked her colleagues for North Macedonia’s strong support during Finland’s NATO application process.
 
“Next year we will celebrate the 30th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Finland and North Macedonia. Our relations are very good and close and we will further develop our cooperation. Our unity is particularly important now that the war of aggression started by Russia in Ukraine is challenging the security of the whole Europe,” Minister Tuppurainen says.
 
On Tuesday 5 July, the Ministers had discussions with Albania’s Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs Olta Xhaçka and Minister of Justice Ulsi Manja in Tirana, the capital of Albania.
 
Finland’s aim is to get the EU membership negotiations of Albania started without delay. Minister Tuppurainen thanked his colleagues for Albania’s strong support for Finland’s NATO membership and expressed her wish for the rapid ratification of the application.
 
“Like Kosovo and North Macedonia, Albania has taken decisive action and joined the EU’s sanctions against Russia that were imposed due to the illegal war of aggression started by Russia. Albania has also served as a rotating member of the UN Security Council, in line with the EU countries. This builds a good foundation for the country’s EU membership negotiations,” Minister Tuppurainen says
 
At the meetings, Minister Tuppurainen stressed that the reforms required by the EU membership criteria, especially those related to the rule of law, will modernise societies and benefit the people living in them already before the accession to the EU. Reforms made well on time will speed up the process towards the countries’ EU membership during the negotiation process as well.

Inquiries: Saara Pokki, Special Adviser, tel. +358 50 478 6363 and Satu Keskinen, State Under-Secretary for EU Affairs, tel. +358 295 160 302, Prime Minister’s Office