Kosovo question continues to be key for future EU-Serbia relations

The official working programme of the Delegation started with the meeting of the EP Delegation with the Ambassadors of the EU Member States. Chairman Eduard Kukan, MEP, asked for the opinion of the Ambassadors as regards the situation in the country. Mr Kukan reiterated that Europe wants Serbia in the EU. The Head of the EU Delegation inSerbia, Vincent Degert, said that the main challenges for the country are: the restart of the Belgrade-Pristina negotiations; the tackling of economic problems, fighting corruption, jucidiary reform; and the Vojvodina policies and the situation in Sandzak.

The next item on the agenda was the meeting with the Serbian PM Ivica Dačić. Talking to the MEPs, PM Dačić highlighted: Our strategic goal is EU membership. In relation to Kosovo, he said: Our aim is to continue the dialogue. We want to continue the dialogue on other technical issues and if possible on a higher political level. But the he added that partition is a viable, sustainable solution which will eliminate all causes of the conflict. He stated that we can listen to nice stories about civil societies but this is the Balkans and real life, not Brussels and Washington. He claims that the villages surrounding Serbias enclaves in Kosovo have Albanian, not the Kosovo flag. Thus, he stated that a solution is needed and that this would bring Serbia into the EU and Kosovo into the UN. The programme continued with the 6th EP-Serbia IPM. Chairman Kukan praised the process of smooth change of political majority and politicians in power. These two elements, elections and unproblematic shift of power, highlight the democratic maturity of the political class in Serbia. He stressed that politicians are facing critical challenges. The meeting in the National Assembly ended with the adoption of the Joint Statement. The document encourages the Serbian Government to continue implementing the European reforms, and makes it clear that the normalisation of relations with Pristina is a key step to further EU integration.

The parliamentarians welcomed the formation of Serbias new government and its commitment to further EU integration. They encouraged it to adopt and fully implement European reforms, especially in the domain of the judiciary, the fight against corruption, the freedom of the media, protection of minorities, economy and improvement in the business climate. They underlined how significant it is for Serbia to continue playing an active and constructive role in the region, noting that good neighbourly relations and regional cooperation are the most important for EU enlargement. They also welcomed Belgrades commitment to continue the dialogue with Pristina and implement the agreement reached so far. The Joint Statement also stressed that the normalisation of relations with Pristina remains a key condition for the next step in the EU integration process – the start of entry talks with the EU. However, they voiced concern over the deteriorating state of the Serbian economy and the high budget deficit.

– Theodoros Gorgitsopulous