Germany to Back EU Progress for Serbia, Kosovo If Accord EnactedPatrick Donahue and Gordana Filipovic
Germany will support Serbia’s bid to secure a start date to begin European Union membership talks and back pre-accession talks for Kosovo if the nations show progress in implementing their April 19 political agreement.
It’s important “that an implementation agreement is found and that the first achievable implementation steps are made,” German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said in the Serbian capital of Belgrade today.
Serbian Prime Minister Ivica Dacic and his Kosovo counterpart, Hashim Thaci, will meet in Brussels tomorrow to discuss the implementation of a preliminary, EU-mediated agreement to normalize ties after years of conflict and tension, paving the way for reconciliation and talks on joining the bloc.
“I can’t prejudge a decision of the government or a vote in the Bundestag, but if this decision on implementation is made, with substantial and visible results, I will give a positive signal to the German Bundestag,” Westerwelle told reporters after meeting with Dacic.
The Council of the EU will meet on June 28 to decide on Serbia and Kosovo, a day after a debate in the German lower house in Berlin, the Bundestag.
The deal with Kosovo, which Serbs consider the cradle of their nation and culture, has raised criticism from Serbs in northern Kosovo over concerns that their interests are being sacrificed to benefit Serbia’s bid for EU membership. Dacic has not yet convinced them to accept and implement the deal.
The progress means that Serbia’s “parallel structures must be removed, but that also means that Kosovo must make it easier to integrate into Kosovo,” Westerwelle said in Pristina after talks with Thaci today.
Serbia and Kosovo have until June 15 to work out power sharing in telecommunications and energy and make progress in clarifying the fate of people missing on both sides since the 1998-99 war during the breakup of Yugoslavia.
Dacic said he will “invest a new effort to reach a solution and agree on an implementation plan tomorrow” as failure to get the date “will be catastrophic.”
Thaci said in Pristina that he’s “very confident and hopeful that we can reach an agreement tomorrow.” While the implementation “won’t be easy,” it will be conducted “peacefully,” he said.
Serbia and Kosovo have been at loggerheads since the wars of the 1990s that led to the breakup of Yugoslavia and Serbia had vowed never to accept its independence, declared unilaterally in 2008. Kosovo is recognized by more than 90 countries worldwide, including the U.S. and 22 of the EU’s 27 member states.