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Today's Zaman

Kosovo eyes trade liberalization with supportive Turkey

15 April 2012, Sunday /ADEM ELİTOK
Kosovo Deputy Prime Minister Mimoza Kusari Lila has said her country will sign a free trade agreement (FTA) with Turkey.

Speaking to businesspeople in Bursa at an event organized by the Association of Industrialists and Businessmen of Rumeli (RUMELİSİAD) on Sunday, Lila also noted that Kosovo can serve as a good production hub for Turkish entrepreneurs who want to expand their clientele on the larger European continent. “We have recently allowed the opening of new industrial zones in Kosovo. And we are also working to reduce the tax rates. Though it is a small country, Kosovo has big potential. You can export your products to Europe without being subject to tariffs. We will also sign an FTA with Turkey,” she said, promising to provide all facilitations possible to Turkish businesspeople interested in investing in Kosovo.

Turkey currently has FTAs with 15 countries, from Chile to Israel as well as the members of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) -- Norway, Switzerland, Iceland and Liechtenstein. Negotiations have also been completed for FTAs to be signed with Lebanon, Mauritius and South Korea.

On several occasions Turkey has acted as an intermediary and peacemaker in the Balkans, with which it shares strong cultural ties, focusing on the triangle of Serbia, Bosnia and Croatia, to secure the territorial integrity of the region and ease tension after the Yugoslav wars of the 1990s. Ankara has also always been supportive of an independent Kosovar state, and it was the first country to recognize the independence of the Republic of Kosovo when it seceded from Serbia in 2008. Underlining that Turkey helped Kosovo much during its bad times, Lila said now all those dark days have come to an end and that they are setting their sights on the work of the future. “Now Kosovars are free, and they need jobs,” she said.

On Sunday the audience listening to Lila included businesspeople of Kosovar origin living in Bursa. “We want to see Kosovo’s economic development parallel that of Bursa’s. For you, Kosovo is a homeland, Bursa is a homeland,” the deputy prime minister said.

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