The start of EU accession negotiations with Serbia
and the progress made in normalising relations between Serbia and
Kosovo was welcomed by Foreign Affairs Committee MEPs in two
resolutions passed on Thursday. They also stressed that these
relations would be helped if all EU member states were to recognise
MEPs welcome the progress made in 2015 in
normalising relations between Serbia and Kosovo and call on Belgrade
and Pristina to move forward with the full and timely implementation
of agreements reached so far, noting that this is one of the
conditions for Serbia's accession to the EU.
"Serbia has made substantial progress on its path
towards the European Union. The opening of the first chapters in
December was a well-deserved recognition of the progress made in the
last few months, particularly in normalising relations with Kosovo.
There is still a lot of work ahead of Serbia, but the country can be
assured of the European Parliament's full support in their
endeavour", said EP rapporteur David McAllister (EPP, DE).
The resolution on Serbia, passed by 50 votes to 2,
with 4 abstentions, welcomes the opening of the EU accession
negotiations. It calls on Serbia to pursue its systematic reforms,
ensure that the work of judges and prosecutors as well as media is
free of political influence and step up its efforts to fight
corruption and organised crime.
"Today's vote again sends a strong signal that the
future of an independent Kosovo lies in the European Union. MEPs
have once more called for the EU to complete its official
recognition of Kosovo and urged the five member states refusing to
recognise Kosovo to drop their blockade", said EP rapporteur Ulrike
Lunacek (Greens/EFA, AT). "This report is, however, overshadowed by
serial acts of violence inside and outside the Kosovo Assembly in
recent months. It appeals to all players to act for the good of
Kosovo in a responsible way, supporting a non-violent solution to,
and exit from, this crisis", she added.
MEPs stress that EU-Kosovo Association Agreement,
ratified by the European Parliament on 21 January, provides a
powerful incentive for reform and paves the way for Kosovo’s
integration into the EU. Media and judiciary independence, fighting
high-level corruption and organised crime and labour market reforms
are just a few areas of major concern, the resolution says.
MEPs also take note that five EU member states
have yet to formally recognise Kosovo, adding that if all EU member
states were to do so, this would bring more stability to the region
and help to normalise relations between Kosovo and Serbia.
The resolution on Kosovo was passed by 37 votes to
12, with 9 abstentions.
The full House will vote on the two separate
resolutions in Strasbourg on 4 February.