Serbia, Kosovo, Montenegro: reforms and good neighbourly relations needed
Montenegro, Serbia and Kosovo can make faster progress towards joining the EU by concentrating on good neighbourly relations and reforms, MEPs said in three separate resolutions approved by a show of hands on Thursday. Reforms in these countries must focus on fighting corruption and organised crime, enforcing the rule of law, ensuring the independence of the judiciary and media and protecting other fundamental freedoms, they added.
MEPs stressed that EU accession talks with Serbia should start before June 2013, provided the reform course set by the government in the areas of the judiciary, combating corruption, ensuring media freedom and protecting all minorities is maintained. They also said that parliaments and civil society in Serbia and Kosovo need to be more extensively involved in the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue.
Setting a date for starting accession negotiations would boost reform-oriented forces in Serbia and help economic recovery", said rapporteur Jelko Kacin (ALDE, SL), adding that "A breakthrough in the talks between Serbia and Kosovo would have far-reaching consequences for the EU integration process of the Western Balkans as a whole".
Kosovo needs to make rapid reforms to enforce the rule of law, fight corruption and organised crime and protect minorities, promote administrative capacities and boost trade so as to allow the launch of the EU-Kosovo Stabilisation and Association Agreement, which defines rights and obligations pending EU membership, MEPs said.
"I deplore the failure of Spain, Greece, Romania, Slovakia and Cyprus to lend their full support to Kosovo's efforts. These member states still have not recognized Kosovo's independence. They must do so now, to allow Kosovo to participate in Europol and Interpol, as well as international sports events", said rapporteur on Kosovo Ulrike Lunacek (Greens/EFA, AT).
MEPs highlighted Montenegro's solid progress towards EU membership and the role that it plays in buttressing regional stability. They nonetheless noted that it needs to do more to combat organised crime and corruption at high level and protect media freedom, women's rights and gender equality.
"The smooth conduct of the negotiations so far is a real signal to the Western Balkan neighbours that enlargement does not stop at Croatia's accession", said rapporteur on Montenegro Charles Tannock (ECR, UK), pointing to the need to strengthen the independence and accountability of the judiciary and media freedom.
Procedure: Non-legislative resolutions