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News 29 Mar 12

EU Conditions Serbia Accession Talks on Kosovo

European Parliament resolution recommends start date for membership talks as soon as possible while meantime urging Belgrade to back off from holding polls in Kosovo.

Belgrade

The European Parliament on Thursday adopted a resolution on Serbia, saying Belgrade should be given a date to begin accession talks with the EU as soon as possible but should meanwhile step back from trying to extend its local elections on May 6 to Kosovo.

The resolution, adopted by an overwhelming majority of 754 votes “for” and only 49 “against”, was submitted by Europe’s Rapporteur for Serbia, Jelko Kacin. 



A key amendment said calling local elections in Kosovo would be against the international law and UN Security Council Resolution 1244. 



The resolution, based on a report by Kacin, garnered support from the majority of MEPs, including leaders of the three biggest parliamentary groups - progressive, socialist and liberal - all of whom stressed that Serbia needs to normalize relations with Kosovo and intensify its reform and anti-corruption efforts. 



However, the resolution includes a positive assessment of the country's cooperation with the Hague Tribunal, internal reforms, and improvements in regional cooperation. 



It notes certain weak points, primarily in relation to the reform of the justice system, the position of the media, and treatment of national and sexual minorities. 



During Wednesday's European Parliament meeting, Denmark’s Minister for European Affairs Nicolai Wammen, whose country currently presides over the EU, and European Enlargement Commissioner Stefan Fule both expressed expectations that Belgrade would meet the key requirement for accession talks by continuing dialogue with the Kosovo authorities in Pristina. 


The Parliament will also vote Thursday on draft resolutions on Montenegro, Macedonia, Turkey and Kosovo. 


Serbia decided on March 13 to include Kosovo in the next round of local elections to be held on May 6. Both Brussels and Pristina criticised the move.

Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in 2008 and has since been recognised by 22 of the 27 EU countries as well as by the US.

Holding local elections in the Serb-run northern districts of Kosovo is seen as especially problematic, as they will clearly reinforce Serbian-run “parallel institutions” operating in the north.

Abandoning these institutions is the main condition that Brussels has set for Serbia to pursue its EU integration path.

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