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Pristina, May 14, 2013 - Today, the Government of Kosovo hosted a donors’ conference to discuss long-term sustainable energy plans that include increased investments in energy efficiency and renewable energy. The conference was attended by Prime Minister HashimThaçi, Minister of Economic Development BesimBeqaj, representatives from the European Commission, the World Bank Group,the United States Department of State, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the European Investment Bank, USAID, KfW, GIZ, JICA and business representatives.

Increasing energy efficiency and increasing renewable energy are two essential elements of the Government’s strategy to reform the energy sector and move closer to European Union standards. The conference was seen as a positive step forward in bringing together Kosovo’s development partners to support such projects and to discuss the decommissioning of the Kosovo A power plant.

The international participants congratulated the Government on the successful privatization of KEDS and noted that this was an important milestone in implementing the energy strategy and improving the efficiency of electricity distribution.

Opening remarks were made by Prime MinisterHashimThaçi who noted that the Government of the Republic of Kosovo has identified the energy sector as one of the important sectors of sustainable economic and social development of the country.

“Having in mind that the development of energy activities has quite some influence on the environment, measures to improve the environmental situation in the energy sector have been undertaken in the recent years. In the framework of this activity the precipitators in three units of Kosovo A have been replaced or are being replaced. Also, the Government remains committed to work towards the decommissioning of Kosovo A PP as soon as new generation capacities are functional. To do this three working groups have been established which will be supported in the preparations for decommissioning Kosovo A”, said Prime Minister Thaci.

He added that in parallel to the activities for construction of new energy capacities, the Government is committed to develop renewable energy sources in order for the energy produced in Kosovo to have as little impact on environment pollution as possible.

On behalf of the European Commission, JoostKorte, Deputy Director General for Enlargement, noted that “we need to see steps towards the closure of Kosovo A and we hope this conference generates firm commitments to this. We are prepared to fund the entire cost of 60 million euros for the closing and decommissioning of Kosovo A and we are looking to identify elements of the decommissioning process which we can begin and fund even before the plant’s closure. Additional funds will be made available for reducing the environmental impact of the energy sector”.

Speaking on behalf of the World Bank, Ellen Goldstein, Country Director and Regional Director for the Western Balkans, said: "Energy sector reforms are a binding condition for investment, growth, jobs, and prosperity for Kosovo. We are here today to bring our full support to the energy reform agenda. Together we can bring accessible, affordable, and clean energy to Kosovo through a mix of renewable energy, energy efficiency, and modern coal technology".

The World Bank has $55 million in ongoing and planned commitments for renewable energy, energy efficiency, and energy-related environmental management. This includes $32.5 million for anEnergy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Project to finance energy efficiency and renewable energy investments in public sector buildings.

Last week, the World Bank Group Board of Executive Directors approved a US$4.2 million Additional Credit for the Kosovo Energy Sector Clean-up and Land Reclamation Project to continue addressing environmental issues near Kosovo A, remove hazardous chemicals from an old gasification site, and build capacity for environmental good practices in the mining and energy sector.

On behalf of the U.S. Department of State, Daniel Rosenblum, Coordinator of Assistance to Europe and Eurasia, noted that “Kosovo’s lack of energy security remains a significant barrier to job creation and Kosovo’s long-term economic growth. All of the elements of their energy strategy are interconnected – the success of each element is vital to achieving the others.” The U.S. Government has provided more than $50 million of support to Kosovo’s energy sector and plans to continue its workwith Kosovo and international partners. The United States representatives pledged another $15 million over the next five years.

At the opening session, Minister of Economic Development BesimBeqajassessed that the Government of Kosovo is determined to fulfill its commitments towards the people of Kosovo, but in order to achieve this it needs continuous support and instructions from international donors.

He said he hopes that today the identification of the ways - to work together to fulfill the needs for a sustainable energy mix which combines conventional sources of energy with renewable energy sources, and the reduction of the demand through energy efficiency measures, which would make possible for Kosovo to fulfill its international commitments, including decommissioning of Kosovo A - could take place.

Beqaj said that taking into consideration that renewable energy should be developed through private sector initiative, the Government aims to develop the needed support mechanisms, in the form of feed-in tariffs, simplification of application procedures, promotion activities, certificates of origin etc. Therefore in order to achieve such a development the Government of Kosovo aims to create a financial mechanism to support the private sector initiatives.

“While we discuss today the future steps, we need to have in mind that we are not dealing just with lights, but this is about the citizen rights, their heating, employment and education, which are influenced by the availability and the quality of energy. This can be best achieved through a mix of conventional and renewable energy and through the controlled increase of energy demand”, Beqaj said among other.

The conference continued with the sessions: Development of the energy sector – the vision, challenges and next steps; The financial support for renewable energy and energy efficiency projects; The role of renewable energy in Kosovo; The role of energy efficiency in sustainable development and closed with the Conclusions. While a special session of the conference is provided by civil society.