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RIGA- During his working visit inPristina, Kosovo on 8 and 9 July, Foreign Minister Maris Riekstins met withtop-level Kosovan officials and heads of international missions, and visitedLatvian soldiers serving in NATO-led peacekeeping forces in Kosovo.
According to information from Latvia'sforeign ministry, at a meeting with the President of Kosovo Fatimir Sejdiu,both sides discussed the situation in the country after the declaration ofKosovo's independence on 17 February. President Sajdiu thanked Latvia forbeing one of the first to recognise the independence of Kosovo. He also valuedhighly the fact that the Latvian Foreign Minister is one of the fewrepresentatives of the European Union states and governments who havepersonally visited Kosovo. The President was appreciative of the work of therepresentatives of the Latvian Contingent within the NATO-led peacekeepingforces (KFOR), and also the participation of Latvian experts in the EU Rule ofLaw Mission (EULEX) in Kosovo. Foreign Minister Riekstins expressed desire andability to help Kosovo bilaterally as well, in building the country andestablishing institutions, in view of the experience that Latvia hasaccumulated after regaining its independence.
The discussion with Kosovo's PrimeMinister Hashim Thaci mainly focused on the progress of the reform process inKosovo and Kosovo's measures towards establishing a favourable businessenvironment, attracting foreign investment, and strengthening the rule of law,including the fight against organised crime, smuggling and corruption. A topicof discussion was also Kosovo's relations with its neighbouring countries,including Serbia,after the endorsement of the new government, and the overall situation in theWest Balkans.
At a meeting with the Kosovo'sForeign Minister Skender Hyseni, the continuing of the process of recognitionof Kosovan independence was discussed, currently the key priority of thegovernment of Kosovo. "One can draw certain parallels between the history ofLatvia and Kosovo, because Latvia too in the early 1990's had to start from thevery beginning in the formation of state institutions, this is precisely why weare prepared to share our experience with the government of Kosovo, offeringboth our political and practical support" pointed out Foreign Minister Riekstins.
A meeting alsotook place with Latvian representatives at EULEX in Kosovo, who gave an accounton the implementation of the mission and the future international presence inKosovo. Latviaplans to participate in the EULEX mission with eight civil experts.