EU foreign ministers meeting in Luxembourg on Monday (25 October) will invite the European Commission to submit its opinion on Serbia's application for EU membership. But the ministers' conclusions, seen by WAZ.EUobserver, are to say bluntly that Serbia cannot go further toward EU accession without the arrest of war crimes suspects Ratko Mladic and Goran Hadzic and a constructive approach in the upcoming dialogue with Kosovo.
Source: EU Observer: http://euobserver.com
After two nights of long and tiring talks, the representatives of 26 EU countries and the Netherlands on Friday agreed the final text of the ministers' communique.
The compromise consists of several elements: Ministers will voice strong support for Serbian president Boris Tadic; they will say Belgrade's attitude toward Kosovo is a key condition for further Serbian EU integration; and they will make clear Serbia cannot obtain official EU candidate status unless all EU member states, including the Netherlands, agree on a positive assessment of its co-operation with the Hague War Crimes Tribunal (ICTY), based on ICTY chief prosecutor Serge Brammertz' reports.
The conclusions on Serbia include five paragraphs.
After recalling that, on 22 December 2009, President Tadic presented the application for EU entry, the first paragraph says: "The Council decided to implement the procedure laid down in Article 49 of the Treaty on the European Union. Accordingly, the Commission is invited to submit its opinion." Preparation of the opinion or 'avis' normally takes at least one year and is the first step to a country being granted formal candidate status.
The second paragraph recalls the statement at an EU summit in December 2006 that the future of the Western Balkans lies in the European Union. It reiterates that each country's progress toward the EU depends on its individual efforts to comply with the Copenhagen Criteria and conditions spelled out in the so-called Stabilisation and Association Process. The Copenhagen Criteria is a text dating back to 1993 which says EU-aspirant countries must conform with democratic, legal and economic EU norms.
In the third paragraph, the EU introduces as a new condition Serbia's attitude in the Kosovo talks: "The Council reiterates that a constructive approach towards regional co-operation is essential. The Council also calls for progress in the process of dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina, under the facilitation of the EU and its High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, welcomed in the United Nations General Assembly resolution of 9 September 2010 as a factor for peace, security and stability in the region."
The last two paragraphs are dedicated to Serbia's co-operation with the ICTY. The EU underlines that "no further steps of Serbia's path towards EU accession will be taken unless the Council unanimously decides that full co-operation with the ICTY exists or continues to exist."
Furthermore, the Council calls upon Serbia to implement recommendations presented by the ICTY prosecutor to the UN Security Council in June „concerning Serbia's support in ongoing trials and appeals and Serbia's assistance in the key matter of the arrest of the two remaining fugitives, Ratko Mladic and Goran Hadžic, which would be the most convincing proof of Serbia's efforts and cooperation with the ICTY. The EU will continue to regularly monitor the cooperation with the ICTY. The EU and its Member States recall their readiness to assist Serbia in this respect."