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MEPs urge Serbia to improve rule of law, align with EU foreign policy

Author Radomir Ralev
MEPs urge Serbia to improve rule of law, align with EU foreign policy Diliff/CC BY-SA 3.0

BELGRADE (Serbia), November 30 (SeeNews) - The European Parliament said it urged Serbia to step up reform efforts on the rule of law and intensify the fight against corruption and organised crime.

Serbia needs to continue the reform of the country’s public administration to make it more politically neutral and align with the EU’s foreign and security policy, including on Russia, and within the United Nations, the European Parliament said in a statement on Thursday.

In a report on Serbia's progress towards EU accession, adopted in a 503-to-85 vote with 47 abstentions, members of the European Parliament (MEPs) welcomed Serbia’s continued engagement on the path of integration into the EU and call for this strategic decision to be actively promoted among the Serbian public. 

"Serbia is making good progress on its strategic goal to join the EU with 14 negotiation chapters now opened, two of them being provisionally closed. With all energy focused on adopting and implementing reforms, in particular in the rule of law chapters and on the normalisation of relations with Kosovo, more chapters could be opened in the months to come," European Parliament rapporteur on Serbia, David McAllister, said.

While taking note of the recent debate on possible exchanges of territories between Serbia and Kosovo, MEPs underlined that ethnically homogeneous states should not be the objective in the region. Any future agreement will be acceptable only if mutually agreed between Serbia and Kosovo and if it takes into account the overall stability in the region and international law, the European Parliament noted.

MEPs also highlighted Serbia’s efforts to normalise ties with Kosovo and support the dialogue facilitated by the EU as the framework to reach a comprehensive normalisation agreement.

The European Commission started negotiations with Serbia on the country's accession to the bloc in January 2014. The country has opened 14 chapters in the accessions process thus far, two of which have been closed, namely Chapter 25 - Science & Research and Chapter 26 - Education & Culture.

Belgrade does not recognise the independence of Kosovo, Serbia's former southern province populated predominantly by ethnic Albanians.

The European Union expects Serbia and Kosovo to swiftly deliver on their commitment to the dialogue on comprehensive normalisation of relations as key for their aspirations for membership, EU’s foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said earlier this month.

In 2013, the governments of Serbia and Kosovo reached an agreement for normalisation of bilateral relations, the so-called Brussels Agreement, but neither of them signed it. According to the document, neither country would block, or encourage others to block, the other country's progress to EU membership.