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Progress Report will show only limited progress for Serbia, and will not include a recommendation for a start to EU membership negotiations.
The European Commission’s annual report on Serbia’s progress, which will be presented in Brussels on Wednesday, will not include a recommendation for a start to membership negotiations, a Brussels source told Balkan Insight.
A marked improvement in relations with the now independent former province of Kosovo
|Fule: Serbia needs to respect the territorial integrity of Kosovo|
Presenting the progress report on Serbia to the European Parliament, Stefan Fule, the European Commissioner for Enlargement, said that there needs to be a visible and sustainable improvement in relations between Serbia and Kosovo.
“This process should gradually result in the full normalisation of relations between Serbia and Kosovo with the prospect of both being able to fully exercise their rights and fulfil their responsibilities within the European Union,” Fule said.
“Addressing the problems in northern Kosovo, while respecting the territorial integrity of Kosovo and the particular needs of the local population, will be an essential element of this process,” he added.
remains a key condition for Serbia's EU progress, the same official told Balkan Insight.
“The resolution of issues with Kosovo will remain the condition for Serbia to obtain a start date to negotiations," he said.
"We expect the Serbian government to actively participate in the upcoming EU-facilitated dialogue [with Kosovo] in Brussels, and we will assess Serbian progress step by step."
According to the same source, the report will regret the slow pace of internal reforms, especially when it comes to the rule of law.
The Commission will note that laws still enable politicians to interfere into judicial system. However, Brussels praises the re-election of the judges that were fired in 2009, and will closely monitor their reappointment.
The report expects the government to devise a new strategy and action plan on reform to its judiciary in order to fully comply with EU recommendations.
The report will criticize the recent cancellation of the Gay Pride Parade, noting that the EU remains committed to the full respect of human rights and fundamental freedoms, including freedom of assembly and freedom of expression and non-discrimination.
The authorities are urged to ensure that the rights to freedom of assembly and expression are fully respected and that any future peaceful gathering is allowed to take place.
The Serbian state is advised to completely remove itsself from ownership of the media and to fully implement the recommendations of the 2011 Media Strategy.
Regarding the economy, the report says many issues and obstacles prevent the full development of the economy, including a problematic Law on Public Procurement, and the Law on the National Bank.
This is considered a step back in the country’s development as it provides for political control over the central bank.
According to the report, Serbia is still facing problems inherited from past conflicts, concerning refugees and unresolved property rights.
However, the country is praised for its effort to resolve the issue of refugees through permanent housing, undertaken in the so-called Sarajevo Process.
The upcoming European Commission opinion on Serbia will reveal that Serbia has made only limited progress in the past year, the Commissioner for Enlargement has warned.
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