AFET adopts reports on Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo and Serbia

by Cristian Florescu

Foreign Affairs Committee of the European Parliament adopted reports on Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo and Serbia. They will be voted on in the plenary of the European Parliament in July, writes European Western Balkans

In the report on Bosnia and Herzegovina, which was drafted by Paulo Rangel (EPP), MEPs reconfirmed their support for the country’s Euro-Atlantic orientation.

According to the AFET press release, members strongly denounced all hate rhetoric and disruptive action, including the withdrawal from and obstruction of state institutions, notably by the leadership of the Republika Srpska entity. They urged all political actors to return unconditionally to these state institutions and advance the work on EU-related reforms, notably the rule of law.

The text, adopted with 44 votes in favour, 8 against and 5 abstentions, also stresses the importance of holding general elections in Bosnia and Herzegovina in 2022 as scheduled, as well as implementing the results. Calling for the elimination of all forms of inequality, discrimination and bias in the electoral process, MEPs regret the lack of political will in the negotiations on constitutional and electoral reforms, and the failure to implement them ahead of this year’s elections.

In light of Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine, MEPs also called on Bosnia and Herzegovina to implement the EU sanctions the country has aligned with and warned of Russia’s continuing interest in destabilising Bosnia and Herzegovina.

On Kosovo, MEPs commended the country’s increased political stability and a strong commitment to its European path and reiterated their call on EU member states in the Council to proceed urgently with adopting a visa-free regime for the citizens of Kosovo, underlining that any further delays undermine the EU’s credibility and reputation as a reliable partner.

The report, drafted by Viola von Cramon (Greens/EFA) and adopted by 43 votes in favour, 9 against and 5 abstentions, reconfirms unequivocal support for the EU-facilitated Belgrade-Pristina dialogue and reiterates the importance of achieving a comprehensive, legally binding normalisation agreement, which is crucial for both countries to advance on their respective European paths and which will contribute to regional stability and prosperity.

Welcoming Kosovo’s alignment with the EU on sanctions against Russia and its strong solidarity expressed with Ukraine, MEPs also stressed that the independence of Kosovo is irreversible and called on the EU countries that have not yet recognised Kosovo to do so immediately.

The report on Serbia, drafted by Vladimír Bilčík (EPP), welcomed the fact that EU membership continues to be Serbia’s strategic goal while regretting the lack of progress and even backsliding on issues that are fundamental for EU accession. Praising the return to a more pluralistic parliament following the elections in Serbia on 3 April 2022, Members called for progress on the rule of law, fundamental rights, freedom of expression, strengthening media pluralism and normalisation of relations with Kosovo.

The report, adopted with 50 votes in favour, 5 against and 3 abstentions, strongly regrets that Serbia has not aligned with EU sanctions following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and calls on the newly elected authorities to urgently align with the EU’s decisions against Russia. Members express concern about the spread of disinformation and call on the Serbian authorities and the European Commission to fight disinformation, Russian propaganda and other hybrid threats in the Western Balkans.

“Following the April 2022 elections and Russia’s war of aggression, it is my genuine wish that our partners in Serbia understand the sense of urgency in moving forward on their European path”, said Bilčík.

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