Wednesday, November 08, 2006
EU urges Serbia to cooperate with U.N. effort to resolve status for Kosovo
The European Union urged Serbia on Wednesday to "take a constructive approach" in negotiating the future of its breakaway Kosovo province and said it must cooperate with the U.N.'s war crimes tribunal if it wants closer ties with the EU.Serbia and its Balkan neighbors must also do more to tackle corruption and step up political and reforms needed to prepare them for eventual EU membership, according to the EU's annual progress reports on the prospects of would-be EU members."I trust that Serbian citizens as well as political leaders now focus less on the nationalist past and more on the European future, that's best for Serbia, that's best for the western Balkans," EU Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn told reporters after the release of the EU reports."On Kosovo, we expect Serbia to take a constructive approach," he added.The EU's report on Serbia reiterated that steps toward eventual membership were suspended until Serbia proves it is fully cooperating with the U.N. war crimes tribunal and hands over top war crimes suspect Gen. Ratko Mladic.The report said the EU was also concerned over Serbia's new constitution, warning it did not fully guarantee judges' independence. It also called on Belgrade to intensify its fight against corruption and ensure full civilian control over its armed forces.On Kosovo, the EU report acknowledged that the focus on the sensitive status negotiations led by the U.N. "has delayed significant reform efforts."It said the province's administration "remains weak, affecting the rule of law," adding that judicial bodies there have made "little progress" in civil and criminal justice.Separate reports were also released on Croatia, Bosnia, Montenegro, Macedonia and Albania.On Croatia already opened entry talks with the EU last year and hopes to join in 2009. However, the report said there was "considerable scope" for improving the nation's judicial system and its fight against corruption. It also called on Zagreb to ensure better protection of minorities and to solve its border dispute with EU member Slovenia.Croatia's President Stipe Mesic said the critical report on his country showed it had to follow through on reforms. "It is easy to pass the laws, but it is much harder to implement them," he said in Zagreb. "It all depends on us."The EU warned Macedonia over its problems with corruption. It said reforms must go faster, if wants to get a starting date for membership talks.
Posted by KosovaReport at 6:53 PM