Magazine article Europe-East

Eu/western Balkans : Eu Ministers Decline to Resume Partnership Talks with Serbia

Magazine article Europe-East

Eu/western Balkans : Eu Ministers Decline to Resume Partnership Talks with Serbia

Article excerpt

Although Western Balkan states' progress towards EU integration is assessed on individual merits, the fight against organised crime and corruption as well as the reform of judicial and public administration are common concerns for the whole region. Draft conclusions adopted by EU foreign ministers on 11 December stress that Western Balkans countries must make progress in these areas. The ministers also underlined that each country seeking progress towards EU integration should fully cooperate with the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY).

This condition is especially important in the case of Serbia. Despite pressure from such countries as Italy and Austria, EU foreign ministers decided against an early resumption of partnership talks with Serbia. But they underlined the readiness of the EU "to support Serbia in its European course" as long as it starts to fully cooperate with ICTY.

Partnership talks with Serbia on the Stabilisation and Association Agreement were frozen in May 2006 due to its failure to arrest former wartime commander Ratko Mladic, but several countries urged a review after general elections, which are to be held in Serbia on 21 January.

The importance of full cooperation with ICTY was also underlined for Croatia - the only Western Balkan country which has ongoing accession negotiations with the EU. The Council pointed out that Zagreb has to keep working with the Hague tribunal on a regular basis. Foreign ministers praised Croatia for the successful start of its accession negotiations but urged it to step up reforms in the areas of judicial cooperation and public administration as well as the fight against corruption. …

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