MEPs urge Belgrade to continue dialogue with Pristina
By Lénaïc Vaudin d’Imécourt | Thursday 29 March 2012
Members of the European Parliament supported, on 29 March, two motions for a resolution on Serbia and Kosovo, calling on both countries to pursue their dialogue for the stability of the region. During a plenary debate, on 28 March, MEPs stressed the importance for Belgrade to come to terms with its neighbours and welcomed the recent adoption of a historic agreement between the two states “on inclusive regional cooperation”. They said that this agreement should be implemented “in good faith”.
During the debate, a number of MEPs urged Serbia to “abandon all illusions that one day Kosovo will be a part of the Serb state again”. Belgrade refuses to recognise the independence of Kosovo, which was proclaimed in 2008, and has planned to include four Northern Kosovo municipalities in its 6 May elections, defying international demands. Enlargement Commissioner Stefan Füle, addressing MEPs ahead of their debate, on 28 March, called on Serbia to refrain from holding said local elections.
MEPs welcomed the decision to grant Serbia EU candidate status and demanded that “accession negotiations should be opened with Serbia as soon as possible, thereby demonstrating the EU’s commitment to the country’s European perspective”. MEP Jelko Kacin (ALDE, Slovenia), rapporteur for Serbia, said that he believed accession negotiations should be opened as soon as possible, “once the new government has demonstrated its commitment to the reform effort and regional cooperation”.
In a motion for a resolution adopted the same day, MEPs stressed the “European perspective of Kosovo, in line with the European perspective of the whole Western Balkans region”. They noted that the declaration of independence of Pristina had been recognised by 88 countries, including 22 EU member states, and stated that they would “welcome the remaining five EU member states to do likewise”. They added that they consider “regrettable the diplomatic pressure to prevent some countries from recognising Kosovo”.
MEPs again called for Serbia and Kosovo to find pragmatic solutions to their bilateral issues and expressed their “hope that agreements on all remaining topics will be reached soon in order to pave the way for genuine regional stability and good-neighbourly relations, and to enable Kosovo to enter into contractual agreements with the EU”. In that perspective, Parliament urged “the Council and the Commission of the European Union to negotiate a trade agreement with Kosovo as soon as possible, as this is crucial for the development of the country and for a successful fight against unemployment”.
MEPs demanded that Kosovo be allowed to start European integration along with other parts of the region. But according to Füle, the European Commission is already giving the citizens of Kosovo a European perspective by opening a dialogue on visa liberalisation and by launching a feasibility study.