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European Parliament Links Serbia’s Progress to Sanctions on Russia

Resolution adopted on Wednesday says any advance in Serbia’s EU accession negotiations should be linked to Belgrade’s alignment with the EU on sanctions against Russia.

The European Parliament, in a resolution adopted on Wednesday, recommended other EU bodies to “advance accession negotiations with Serbia only if the country aligns with EU sanctions against Russia and makes significant progress on the EU-related reforms“.

EU Parliamentarians also urged a reconsideration of “any bilateral and EU funds for Serbia that would benefit the Serbian authorities, in particular, any pertaining to projects financed under the Western Balkan Economic and Investment Plan, in order to ensure that all EU expenditure is fully in line with the EU’s strategic goals and interests“.

The resolution was adopted with 502 votes in favour, 75 against and 61 abstentions.

Tonino Picula, who proposed the resolution, said: “By adopting solid recommendations on how future enlargement policy should be implemented, we can once again set the tone and standards to enable the European Union to grow and prosper.

“We wish to ensure that the EU remains an evolving community of European states open to like-minded democracies joining it, sharing common values and interests“, a press release quoted Picula as saying.

In June, the European Parliament’s Committee on Foreign Affairs, AFET, adopted a report that urged mutual recognition between Serbia and Kosovo and also called for Serbia to “urgently align with the EU’s decisions against Russia”, which was sharply criticized in Serbia.

The EP recalled that “due to internal blockages in the past few years, the Council has failed the enlargement countries by blocking the accession process and not delivering on the EU’s long-outstanding promises“, referring to delays in the start of accession talks with Albania and North Macedonia, as well as visa liberalisation for Kosovo. It added that “the EU’s lack of engagement and credibility over the past few years has created a vacuum, thereby opening up space for Russia, China and other malign third actors“.

MEPs urged stepping up “the EU’s constructive engagement with the authorities of both Serbia and Kosovo to achieve a comprehensive legally binding normalisation agreement based on mutual recognition between the two in the framework of the Belgrade Pristina Dialogue“.

Turning elsewhere in the region, they also “express concern about the persistent political crisis in Montenegro, which has already had and continues to have negative consequences for the country’s EU accession path“, and urge countries to “encourage and support the acceleration of Montenegro’s accession, as the frontrunner in the EU accession process“.

MEPs said they welcome the Commission’s recommendation with conditions for granting candidate country status to Bosnia and Herzegovina, “as a clear message of support and unequivocal commitment to its European perspective as well as a step towards the stabilisation of the country and the region, and [Parliament] calls on the European Council to follow up on the recommendation as soon as possible“.

Source: Balkan Insight