News 10 Jul 14

German MPs Nudge Serbia Over Kosovo

A German parliamentary delegation has told Serbia it must implement the EU-led deal with Kosovo in full if it is to realise its EU accession hopes.

Marija Ristic

German parliamentarians, on a two-day visit to Serbia, have told the Belgrade government they want to more action on Kosovo before Serbia can further its aspirations to join the EU

The chief request of the delegation led by Andreas Schneckenhof, from the ruling Christian Democratic Union, CDU, “is implementation of Brussels agreement reached with Kosovo. Germany is glad that Serbia reached the deal, but is still waiting for this to be implemented” a senior EU official told BIRN, referring to the EU-brokered deal designed to normalise relations between Serbia and its ex-province.

Serbia also wants Belgrade to encourage Kosovo Serbs to resolve their problems with Kosovo's own institutions and dissolvde all remaining so-called parallel insitutions, the same source said.

“Both the EU and Germany want also to see domestic reforms to continue – namely progress in the area of rule of law, economic governance," the source added.

"More laws need to be brought in line with the EU negotiations agenda, but also, and more importantly, all this need to be implemented,” the source continued, underlining that Enlargement Commisioner Stefan Fuele, who was yesterday on a brief unofficial visit to Serbia, made the same point.

Schneckenhof, seen as a conservative hardliner in the German CDU, also said the Serbian government should finally prosecute those who set fire to the German embassy in Belgrade during protests against Kosovo's declaration of independence in 2008.

The protests were organised by far-right groups but were backed the Democratic Party of Serbia and the Serbian Radical Party, in which Serbia's current President, Tomislav Nikolic, and the Prime Minister, Aleksandar Vucic, were then senior figures.

The visit comes ten days after Vucic visited Berlin and a day after Vucic visited Moscow. Serbia, which is currently trying to closen ties with both the EU and Russia, is struggling to reconcile their often conflicting agendas.

The EU wants Serbia to act in line with the EU foreign policy, especially over Ukraine, while Moscow also seeks Serbian backing over Ukraine.

While EU officials, including Stefan Fuele and the president of the EU Commission, Jose Manuel Barroso, asked Serbia to join EU sanctions imposed on Russia over its role in the Ukraine crisis, Serbia has remained firm that this is not possible.

Another area of policy difference is over Russia's South Stream gap pipeline, which Serbia has agreed will pass through Serbia, despite EU opposition to the project.

Demands for Serbia to comply with EU foreign policy were repeated on Thursday by the EU ambassador to Serbia, Michael Davenport, who described this as the obligation of every aspiring EU member.


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