EC recommends start of accession talks with Serbia


EC recommends start of accession talks with Serbia

SOURCE: TANJUG, April 22, 2013

LUXEMBOURG — The European Commission (EC) recommended on Monday that negotiations with Serbia on membership of the European Union (EU) begin.

A report published on Monday reads that “Serbia has taken very significant steps towards visible and sustainable improvement in relations with Kosovo, in line with the Council conclusions of December 2012.

“Serbia has actively and constructively engaged in the EU-facilitated dialogue with Pristina and entered discussions on the whole range of issues necessary to achieve visible and sustainable improvement in relations with Kosovo,” the report says.

According to Tanjug, the report “details the chronology of the Belgrade-Priština dialogue, all ten rounds, including the meeting between Serbian President Tomislav Nikolić and Kosovo President Atifete Jahjaga, and it also points to successful implementation of the agreement on Integrated Border Management.”

The Commission will continue to monitor Serbia’s progress in complying with the membership criteria and the conditions of the Stabilization and Association Process, the paper adds.

“The Commission recalls its recommendation of October 2012 that the steps leading to the normalization of relations between Belgrade and Pristina should also be addressed in the context of the framework for the conduct of future accession negotiations with Serbia. The Commission will continue during the accession negotiations to closely monitor reforms and their implementation in the area of rule of law and fundamental rights, especially the judicial reform, the fight against corruption and anti-discrimination policy,” says the report.

Westerwelle: Agreement’s implementation matters

Germany’s Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle has stressed that the implementation of the agreement between Belgrade and Priština is now important.

Ahead of a meeting of EU foreign ministers in Luxembourg, he “congratulated Serbia and Kosovo on the results of their talks.”

“Germany wants the agreement implemented,” he noted, adding that his country found that very important. He also commended Catherine Ashton on her successful involvement and good representation of the EU.

The issue of the normalization relates directly to the EU and its members, he pointed out.

“If there can be more stability in that part of Europe and better relations between Belgrade and Pristina, then it is good news for both those countries and Europe,” Westerwelle noted.

“The decision on whether to grant Serbia a start date for the accession talks with the EU is not yet on the agenda,” he said.

“The issue now is to implement the new agreement,” he remarked.

EC recommends start of SAA talks with Kosovo

The European Commission (EC) recommended on Monday to the EU Council of Ministers to open negotiations with Kosovo on signing of the Stabilization and Association Agreement (SAA).

The Commission adopted on Monday a report with this recommendation, which is immediately presented to the EU foreign ministers, who are holding a session in Luxembourg.

The report reads that Kosovo’s engagement in the dialogue on the normalization of relations with Serbia was serious and constructive, and that sufficient progress was made to open the talks on the SAA both in terms of the dialogue with Belgrade and internal reforms.

The name Kosovo in the report appears with an asterisk and a footnote which cites UNSC Resolution 1244 and the opinion of the International Criminal Tribunal in The Hague.

According to the opinion of EC experts, the talks and possible signing of the SAA with Kosovo do not prejudice its status since the EU already has a few legal agreements with the entities which are not internationally recognized as states such as Taiwan and Hong Kong.

Similar to the report on Serbia, the EC document is composed of two parts, one of which is focused on the development of the dialogue and the agreement which the heads of the two negotiating teams initialed on Friday, and the second on the internal reforms and the establishment of the rule of law.

“The EU expects that both sides will continue to work on normalization of mutual ties in the spirit of a new relation and understanding and without prejudicing regarding their stands on the Kosovo status and in so doing, among other things, they will focus on the issue of Kosovo’s integration and membership in the international bodies,” the report reads.

In the part of the report referring to internal reforms, the EC said that Kosovo supports the operation of the rule of law mission EULEX, particularly the special team which investigates the allegations presented in the report by Special Rapporteur Dick Marty about kidnaps of civilians and illegal human organ trade in 1999 and 2000.

The Commission commended the adoption of the Kosovo strategies for combating organized crime, corruption and drug trafficking, stressing that Kosovo should continue to implement them.