Luxembourg, 14/06/2005 (Agence Europe) - Monday's “External Relations” Council welcomed the “considerable progress” made by Bosnia-Herzegovina in the implementation of the 16 priorities the European Commission identified in its feasibility study for opening negotiations for a Stabilisation and Association Agreement (SAA). In the conclusions, foreign affairs ministers encouraged the government to maintain its efforts, “including the aim of full cooperation without restrictions with the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia”. Before negotiations on an SAA are envisaged, Bosnia-Herzegovina has to “without delay pursue and carry out pending reforms”, notably those on reforming the police and public radio, ministers underlined.
Republika Srpska, which prevented the finalisation of conclusions for an overall agreement on restructuring of the police in accordance with the principles defined by the EU, has been the subject of sharp criticism: its authorities are being called on to urgently take necessary measures, without which negotiations of a SAA will not be possible. The Council also noted with satisfaction the satisfactory functioning of the ALTHEA operation and stated that a EUROFOR presence would be necessary at the end of the year. Ministers have therefore been called on, by the appropriate Council bodies, to prepare the measures necessary in this regard.
The Council also approved the conclusions on Serbia and Montenegro, as well as on Kosovo. It welcomed the report elaborated and presented to ministers by Javier Solana and Commissioner Olli Rehn on the role and the future EU contribution to Kosovo. Solana and Rehn are in charge of pursuing their work and reporting to the Council in due course. Addressing the press at the end of the Council, acting president of the Council, Jean Asselborn, underlined that the EU welcomed the UN decision to undergo an overall examination of standards implementation in Kosovo and the appointment of Ambassador Kai Eide to undertake this task. Asselborn pointed out that “discussions on the future status of Kosovo, “undoubtedly in the autumn, will depend on the positive outcome of this examination. He also explained that the European Union fully supported this process and was prepared to assume increased responsibility in Kosovo. Asselborn indicated that, “whatever Kosovo's future status is, it will have the same European prospects as the rest of the region”. He also added that the European Council would be adopting a declaration on Kosovo this week, “which remains one of the EU's priorities”.
The Council adopted conclusion regional cooperation in the Balkans and indicated the importance it attached to this question. The conclusions explained that, “regional cooperation constituted one of the main elements of the stabilisation and association process”. In this regard, ministers welcomed the results from the summit on 11 May 2005 in Bucharest as part of the South-East European Cooperation Process (SEECP).