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S&Ds to support the EP reports on Kosovo, Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina

Date

08 Jul 2022

Sections

Global Europe

Today the Socialists and Democrats will support the European Parliament’s annual progress reports on three Western Balkan countries: Kosovo, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia. Each of these countries is in a different place on the European path and each must be evaluated on its own merits and on strict criteria. But the future of the whole Western Balkan region lies in the European Union, insist the S&Ds.

The message for Serbia is clear: the S&Ds urge Belgrade to make a clear pro-European choice, restore the rule of law and take the accession process seriously. Serbia must also align itself with the EU sanctions against Russia following Putin’s war against Ukraine. Otherwise, this will have the consequences for its EU perspective. We also regret that it took Belgrade three months to finally announce the result of the elections that took place on 3 April.

Regarding Kosovo, the S&Ds commend the country’s increased political stability and strong commitment to its European path. They urge EU member states to finally adopt a visa-free regime for the citizens of Kosovo. Any further delays will undermine the EU’s credibility and reputation as a reliable partner.

Strongly supporting the sovereignty and the territorial integrity of Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH), the S&Ds once again urge the EU to impose targeted sanctions on Milorad Dodik, the leader of the Serb-dominated autonomous entity the Republika Srpska, who has been pushing a separatist agenda for a long time. The S&D Group is also urging the Commissioner for Neighbourhood and Enlargement, Olivér Várhelyi, to provide clarification regarding his alleged role in assisting Dodik’s separatist escalation in BiH.

Demetris Papadakis, S&D MEP and negotiator on Serbia, said:

“I have a clear message for the people of Serbia: we continue our support for a truly democratic Serbia as a member of the European family.

“Unfortunately, there is a significant delay in Serbia’s accession process. The country's government is the only one to blame for this. The reforms are delayed, social justice is absent and the rule of law and democracy have been undermined. The opposition is marginalised and journalists and media outlets that are not government friendly are silenced.

“We also deplore the fact that the final election results were not available until yesterday, three months after the parliamentary elections, which prevented the new National Assembly from convening. One can suspect that it was to avoid the decision to align with the EU sanctions against Russia following Putin’s war against Ukraine. If Serbia really wants to be a part of our European family, it must do so immediately!"

Andreas Schieder, S&D MEP and negotiator on Kosovo, said:

“Kosovo has continuously proven its commitment to advancing on EU-related reforms and has positioned itself as a very reliable partner. We also commend the country’s progress on reforms and increased political stability. Yet the European Union has failed to deliver on our own promise to provide long-overdue visa-free travel for the citizens of Kosovo, despite the fact that Kosovo has fulfilled all the criteria since 2018! We are seeding frustration and doubts about the EU among the younger generations. 

“I urge France and the Netherlands to remove their vetoes and allow the Council to finally grant a visa-free regime for the citizens of Kosovo. Hopefully this will be the last report that mentions this failure. Any further delays undermine the EU’s credibility and reputation as a reliable partner.”

Dietmar Köster, S&D MEP and negotiator on Bosnia and Herzegovina, added:

“The BiH citizens want to belong to the EU and the country needs a clear EU perspective: candidate status. But to achieve this, BiH first has to implement reforms against corruption and to strengthen the rule of law. BiH needs well-functioning democratic institutions, good governance and fundamental rights!

“Bosnian leaders must focus on these reforms to provide all their citizens with decent living standards, regardless of what ethnic group they belong to. By abusing different ethnic origins and feelings, most of the leading politicians are keeping the country in limbo. I hope that the elections in October will see as many citizens as possible participating and will bring positive change for BiH’s progress towards a future in the EU. This being said, we must also remember that our Union needs to reform itself too, to be better equipped before we embark on future enlargements.”

 

 

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