EP Lauds Serbia, Montenegro's EU Accession Progress

Politics » BULGARIA IN EU | March 29, 2012, Thursday // 16:15
Bulgaria: EP Lauds Serbia, Montenegro's EU Accession Progress A general view during a voting session of the European Parliament members in Brussels, Belgium, 29 March 2012. Photo by BGNES

The European Parliament has praised Serbia and Montenegro for their progress towards EU accession during Thursday's plenary session on EU enlargement.

The Parliament says the EU should start accession talks with Serbia as soon as possible, welcomes plans to start them with Montenegro in June and calls on the five EU Member States that have yet to recognize Kosovo's independence to do so, in three resolutions adopted on Thursday.

The MEPs have welcomed the EU Council's 1 March decision to grant Serbia EU candidate status and says the EU should start accession negotiations with it as soon as possible, on condition that Serbia continues its reforms, in particular to reinforce democracy and in uphold the rule of law, the EP press service reported.

The Parliament is nonetheless concerned about discrimination of minorities in Serbia. It urges the Serbian government to protect all minorities and ensure that their fundamental rights, including equal access to the labor market and fair representation in institutions, are respected. It also points out that many Serbian asylum seekers in the EU belong to ethnic minorities.

The resolution underlines the utmost importance of continuing the dialogue Between Pristina and Belgrade. It also voices grave concerns about the clashes between NATO soldiers and ethnic Serbs in north Kosovo in the second half of 2011.

Finally, it underlines the need to ensure that the parliamentary and local elections to be held on 6 May are fair and calls on the Serbian authorities not to organize local elections in the municipalities of north Kosovo.

The resolution was passed with 542 votes in favor, 59, against and 47 abstentions.

As far as Montenegro is concerned, the European Parliament notes the significant progress made by it and welcomes the European Council's decision to aim to start EU accession negotiations with it in June. It also commends Montenegro on its role in strengthening good neighbourly relations with other Western Balkan countries.

However, the resolution also underlines the need for more effort to put reforms into practice, in particular to combat corruption and organized crime. This "will remain essential throughout Montenegro's accession process", it says.

MEPs also point out that women are still severely under-represented in Montenegro's Parliament, top government posts and decision-making positions in the public and private sectors. The resolution encourages the Montenegrin authorities to step up their mainstreaming of gender-equality policies and introduce the principle of equal pay.

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Tags: Serbia, Montenegro, Western Balkans, kosovo, EU integration, EU accession, accession negotiations, EP, European parliament, EU, MEPs

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