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[Luxembourg 2005 Presidency of the Council of the European Union]
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Press Release
Nicolas Schmit: "The European Union will continue to support the Western Balkans region in its efforts to carry out political and institutional reforms"

Date of release : 13-04-2005

Policy area : General Affairs and External Relations

Event : Plenary session of the European Parliament

Nicolas Schmit, the Minister Delegate for Foreign Affairs and Immigration, spoke about integration in the Western Balkans within the framework of a joint discussion during the plenary session of the European Parliament  in Strasbourg on Wednesday, 13 April 2005.

During his speech, the Minister underlined that the European Union is a perspective for the future of the Western Balkans. To this end, Nicolas Schmit confirmed that "the European Union will continue to support the region in its efforts to carry out political and institutional reforms. For their part, the States of the Western Balkans must show, through specific policies and actions, their will and capacity to become, at the appropriate time, candidates for accession to the European Union with the long-term aim of achieving membership."

Nicolas Schmit said that "regional cooperation aimed at fostering the region’s economic integration is an important instrument for promoting reconciliation, supporting reforms and, above all, improving the region’s economic and social situation. (…) Therefore, the Council attaches great importance to promoting regional cooperation, which is a key element in the process of stabilisation and association (PSA)."

Among the instruments implemented by the European Union in its relations with the Western Balkans, PSA, which was launched in 1999, "is aimed at helping establish lasting peace, democracy, stability, prosperity and respect for rights of minorities" in the region.

Furthermore, and for the first time in 2004, the European Union adopted European partnerships with the Western Balkans. To this end, Minister Schmit pointed out that these partnerships "act as individualised road maps, adapted to the specific situations of each country, which outline the precise actions to be undertaken as a priority."

Nicolas Schmit underlined that "the speed of the progress made by the countries in the region towards their future accession will depend on the pace at which they introduce the necessary reforms and fulfil the Copenhagen and PSA criteria."

Regarding the agenda, the Minister stated that "2005 provides important opportunities." Therefore, the Council should comment on the opportunity to negotiate a stabilisation and association agreement with Bosnia-Herzegovina and Serbia and Montenegro. Negotiations towards such an agreement are continuing with Albania. During the year, the Council should also turn its attention towards the request for accession submitted by FYRM and evaluate the progress made by Kosovo with regard to respecting the norms issued by UNO.

With regard to Croatia, the Minister stated that "the intergovernmental conference for accession negotiations will be convened with a common agreement as soon as the Council has confirmed that Croatia is cooperating fully with the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY). This unreserved cooperation with the ICTY represents an imperative demand on all the elements of the Western Balkans."

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This page was last modified on : 14-04-2005

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