By / March 14, 2013

EU-Serbia: normalisation with Kosovo needed

Updated on 11 April 2013 6 language versions available in PDF formatEU-Serbien: Beziehungen zum Kosovo müssen sich normalisieren UE-Serbia: es…

© ruskpp / Fotolia

Updated on 11 April 2013

6 language versions available in PDF formatEU-Serbien: Beziehungen zum Kosovo müssen sich normalisieren
UE-Serbia: es necesario normalizar las relaciones con Kosovo
UE – Serbie: il faut normaliser les relations avec le Kosovo
UE-Serbia: necessità di normalizzare le relazioni con il Kosovo
UE – Serbia: konieczność normalizacji stosunków z Kosowem
EU-Serbia: normalisation with Kosovo needed

Serbia obtained the status of “candidate country” in March 2012. The Commission’s 2012 progress report noted some positive results, but highlighted limited progress over relations between Belgrade and Pristina. Serbia also needs to step up efforts to align its legislation.

2012 progress report

EU and Serbia
© ruskpp / Fotolia

On 10 October 2012, the European Commission (EC) adopted its latest annual progress report on Serbia. It identifies as main priorities, in order to make progress in the European integration process, the normalisation of relations with Kosovo and the implementation of internal reforms.

As for the political criteria, progress was noted but shortcomings still exist in the fields of rule of law, relations with vulnerable groups, the fight against corruption, and freedom of expression. The EC praised the dialogue with Pristina and the commitment of the new leadership, but called for further progress.

Concerning the economic criteria, trade integration is good but “significant progress” is required in restructuring the economy. Unemployment is rising and systemic reforms in the public sector are needed.

“Good progress” was made in aligning legislation, but more needs to be done in the fields of judiciary and fundamental rights, energy, culture, climate change, information society and media.

In December, the Council acknowledged progress and urged Belgrade to implement the reform agenda, highlighting the importance of normalising relations with Kosovo.

A report should be presented by the Commission and the High Representative for Foreign and Security Policy in mid April 2013, in light of a possible decision of the European Council to set a date for opening negotiations with Serbia.

Reactions from main stakeholders

Enlargement Commissioner Štefan Füle mentioned the “close link” between the EU and Serbia and expressed confidence that Belgrade will achieve further progress. He also met with Serbian Minister of Justice and Public Administration, Nikola Selaković, and called for the pursuit of the reform agenda.

Serbian President Tomislav Nikolić recently stated that Serbia will never recognise Kosovo, even though there is no opposition to Pristina joining regional and international organisations. He also said that Serbia remains committed to EU accession.

Prime Minister Ivica Dačić expressed disappointment at the request, in the progress report, to respect Kosovo’s territorial integrity.

Serbian Deputy Prime Minister for European Integration Suzana Grubješić expressed her wish for Serbia to start EU membership talks in spring or summer 2013. In a draft resolution to be voted in plenary, the Foreign Affairs Committee endorsed this position, provided Serbia undertakes further reforms: taking a tougher stance on corruption, organised crime and training of an independent judiciary.

EU facilitated dialogue

Representatives of Serbia and Kosovo met, on 3 April 2013, in Brussels, for the 8th meeting of the dialogue for the normalisation of relations between Pristina and Belgrade.

Serbia rejected the proposal made in Brussels, criticised the “ultimatum” and stated that insisting on relations between Serbia and Kosovo “will not be acceptable”. HR Ashton deplored the rejection of the proposal and called on Belgrade to make another effort to reach an agreement.

Breakthroughs have been achieved in a number of sectors (border crossing points, trade relations, regional representation and cooperation, recognition of diplomas and others) but stalemate is evident in others. Northern Kosovo is the main bone of contention together with missing persons from both sides of the 1999 war.

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