European Western Balkans

Lunacek: Remaining benchmarks on the way to visa liberalisation can and must be fulfilled

BRUSSELS – The European Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee today adopted a report by Vice President of the European Parliament and Green rapporteur Ulrike Lunacek on Kosovo’s progress towards the EU. Commenting after the vote, Ulrike Lunacek said:

„Today s vote once more sends again a strong signal that the future of an independent Kosovo lies in the European Union. Only few steps to go on the way to visa liberalisation, the report is encouraging all political parties in Kosovo to continue their work for Kosovo in a constructive manner and European spirit”.

The two remaining benchmarks can and must be fulfilled by Kosovo soon: ratification of the border demarcation agreement with Montenegro in the Assembly is a must. And of course, the Kosovo government has to deliver on the second benchmark – the track record of high level convictions for corruption and organized crime – there has been good progress, but still the government must ensure further progress.

The positive aspects of last year have been the entering into force of the Stabilization and Association Agreement, and the framework agreement on Kosovo’s participation in EU programmes.

On recognition Feb. 27th saw again an increase in the number of UN member states recognising Kosovo: with Bangladesh the number rose to 114, a good majority of 193 UN member states already. This should encourage others and especially the five remaining non-recognisers within the EU to move ahead. The report stresses that recognition would be beneficial to the normalisation of relations between Kosovo and Serbia, and also encourages a positive approach with regard to Kosvo’s participation in international organisations.

„In addition my report is demanding the continuation of the dialogue between Serbia and Kosovo as well as the quick implementation of agreed commitments according the principle of good neighbourly relations. In this sense the recent implementation of the dialogue-agreement for a Kosovo telephone code was a step forward. Nevertheless, implementation is still lacking, on catasters and energy on the side of Serbia, and on the association of Serb municipalities on the side of Kosovo. The report also urges the leaders of the Kosovo-Serbian community to take full ownership of their place and role in Kosovo institutions, acting independently from Belgrade. The sending of a Serbian nationalist train from Belgrade to Northern Kosovo is strongly criticised.

„The report also includes calls for progress on rule of law and media freedom, and demands an end of impunity of attacks against journalists and to bring those responsible to justice.“

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