During the previous enlargements of the European Union, Chapter 31 – Foreign, security and defence policy was regarded as a technical section, which can be easily opened and closed. But, so-called balanced approach to Serbia’s foreign policy, has given Chapter 31 bigger importance. Last week, the Stabilisation and Association Council between Albania and the European Union held its seventh meeting. For us it was really interesting to see that the SA Council welcomed the 100% alignment of Albania to Common Foreign and Security Policy declarations and Council decisions. Even Albania did not open any negotiation chapter it will be obvious that Chapter 31, for it, it will be technical and be of those that can be easily closed. Albania is a NATO member, and its foreign policy orientation is not questioned.
How Montenegro and Serbia deals with Common Foreign, Security and Defence Policy of the European Union?
Common Foreign, Security and Defence Policy is negotiating chapter of accession negotiations with the European Union, which are often classified as political. In other words, Chapter 31, except to comply with a relatively small number of the EU acquis, mainly consisting of a legally binding international treaties and joint foreign policy decisions, attitudes and actions.
Commenting on the Common Foreign, Security and Defence Policy of the European Union and its alignment in with candidates and potential candidates countries, in anticipation of answers to the questions that we sent to the Albanian Minister for European Integration, Ms. Klajda Gjosha, European Western Balkans, discussed this issues with the Chief Negotiator of Montenegro, Ambassador Mr. Aleksandar Andria Pejović and Mr. Igor Novaković, Coordinator of the Working Groups on Chapters 30 and 31 of Serbian National Convent for European Union and Research Fellow of International and Security Affairs Centre – ISAC Fund.
Bearing in mind that Montenegro is largely in line with the EU acquis, and that the degree of compliance with the declarations and other documents is fully realized, in the process of negotiations do not expect special challenges in this chapter, Ambassador Pejović stress that, since the restoration of independence, Montenegro retained and promoted a clearly defined foreign policy objectives are, primarily, associated with membership in the EU, NATO and fostering good neighbourly relations. On this line, there is a continuity of the state policy, which is clearly oriented towards the achievement of European standards and the implementation of necessary reforms in all fields.
“Although a small country, Montenegro is, for years, in a number of EU peace operations. I am sure that this commitment and willingness to act as a member before joining the EU was a key to the Montenegro regarded as a leader in the region in this area,” says Ambassador Pejović.
According to Igor Novaković, negotiation Chapter 31 is a chance that a candidate country begins to consider possible future “niche” in the framework of the Common Foreign, Security and Defence Policy of the European Union, which will be able to significantly contribute to, as well as to develop a specific contribution to the future missions of the Common Security and Defence Policy. Novakovic believes that emphasis could be placed on a proactive approach that is focused on being closer to binding values and fundamental goals of the Common Foreign and Security Policy of the European Union for its own foreign policy approach.
Aleksandar Andria Pejović believes that “The clear positioning in relation to issues of common concern, especially in the respect of common, democratic values and principles of the EU, as well as holding regular consultations with representatives of the European External Action Service and the EU High Representative Federica Mogherini, will for sure contribute to the further course of the negotiation process and the opening of Chapter 31”.
On the other hand, in previous years Serbia’s harmonization amounted to 97 percent, but this percentage dropped in the year when the crisis in Ukraine started and when Serbia remained silent on measures against Russia. Novakovic thinks that flaring crisis in Ukraine and the so-called balanced approach of Serbia to foreign policy has given negotiating Chapter 31 much greater importance than for other countries.
“Most of the Serbian citizens, but also many members of the political elites, are not fully aware of the fact that the European Union is club of countries that is based on common values and that therefore there is no “neutrality” or “balance” when it comes to solidarity with other EU Member States” stressed Novakovć.
However, crisis in Ukraine will continue to pose the most important test for all the countries of the region and their compiling to European foreign policy. Anyway both of our interlocutors stress that it should be noted that the Union recognized and, repeatedly, praised both Montenegro’s and Serbia’s contribution in the area of presence in military and civilian terms, in the EU peace missions, within the framework of the Common Security and Defence Policy.
Author: Nemanja Todorović Štiplija