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At the "General Affairs and External Relations" Council held in Luxembourg on Monday 25 April 2005, the Minister for Foreign Affairs and President in office of the Council of the European Union, Jean Asselborn, spoke about the situation in the Western Balkans:
"We have had a discussion on Serbia and Montenegro, and, in particular, on the feasibility study presented by the European Commission. The Council approved this study and asked the Commission to present a project for a mandate for starting negotiations for a stabilisation and association agreement . This is a decisive moment on the path to the integration of Belgrade into Europe, which we are all hoping for.
You must be aware of the fact that an important factor in today’s decision is the significant progress made by Belgrade as regards cooperation with the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY). The Council is delighted with this development and is encouraging both Serbia and Montenegro to pursue this course. The process must continue, since it is one of the basic requirements for establishing closer ties between the Balkan countries and the EU.
As to Kosovo, I would just like to say that we are encouraged by recent developments in the region, particularly the constructive attitude shown by Belgrade, and that we are delighted that all the parties now seem to have excluded any idea of partitioning Kosovo. We now have to do everything we can to encourage rapid decentralisation, which is one of the main keys to the multi-ethnic Kosovo that we are determined to guarantee."
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