European Union ministers welcomed Serbia’s progress towards membership in the Union but warned that progress in rule of law and the normalization of relations between Belgrade and Pristina are the key point in the pre-accession negotiations, the Beta news agency reported.
According to the final document from the EU foreign and defence ministers’ meeting in Luxembourg which Beta said it had access to, the normalization of relations, including a legally binding agreement, is crucial to the progress of both Belgrade and Pristina on their path to the EU and are fundamentally important to regional stability.
The ministers also welcomed work on drafting the statute of the Community of Serb Municipalities (CSM) under the Brussels agreement “following a long delay” and said they expect both sides to engage constructively in implementing agreements including “the overcoming of obstacles in implementing the energy agreement”.
The ministers called Serbia to gradually bring its policies in line with the common EU foreign and security policy and called it to refrain from deviating from common EU visa policies. The cause for concern is Serbia’s new practice of signing agreements with other countries, the document said.
The ministers called Serbia to take steps in reforms covering the rule of law, especially in terms of the independence and efficiency of the judiciary with tangible and permanent results in suppressing corruption, organized crime and money laundering.
They warned that the lack of progress in freedom of expression is causing increasing concern, adding that the Serbian authorities have to guarantee conditions for the unobstructed freedom of expression and independence of the media as priorities, including reinforcing efforts in investigations of attacks on journalists.
Urgent progress is needed in the work of independent bodies and democratic institutions, including parliamentary oversight and constitutional reforms, the document says.