OSCE Permanent Council No. 595
EU response to Ambassador Hans Ola Urstad
- The EU congratulates Ambassador Urstad on his appointment and welcomes him on his first visit to Permanent Council. We thank him for his excellent report.
- We welcome reforms undertaken in Serbia and Montenegro so far and hope that this process will be pursued with determination despite a difficult year ahead. We remain committed to helping Serbia and Montenegro on its road towards the EU. But there is still a long way to go and the support of the international community, including the EU and the OSCE, remains essential.
- The EU has noted with concern recent comments by ICTY Chief Prosecutor Carla del Ponte about Serbia and Montenegro’s unsatisfactory cooperation with the ICTY. We strongly supported the recent messages delivered by the Commission in Belgrade and Sarajevo that full cooperation with the ICTY must be achieved to ensure that Stabilisation and Association Agreement negotiations are not disrupted. The EU again urges Serbia and Montenegro to take decisive action to ensure that all remaining fugitive indictees, notably Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic, are brought to justice without delay. We continue to attach the utmost importance to the OSCE Mission’s assistance to Serbia and Montenegro in handling its domestic war crimes caseload, as well as to its efforts to support regional judicial cooperation in war crimes proceedings.
- The EU has welcomed the meeting between Belgrade and Pristina on decentralisation, held on 20-21 February in Vienna under the auspices of the UN Special Envoy, Martti Ahtisaari, as a demonstration of the preparedness of both sides to engage constructively in the Kosovo Status process. Recalling the statement issued at the Contact Group Ministerial Meeting on 31 January 2006, we urge all parties to continue their engagement in this process and to maintain the spirit and the momentum of negotiations aiming to reach sustainable and practical solutions acceptable to all parties concerned. We also reaffirm the importance of continued and effective Standards implementation.
- We welcome the adoption last night of a referendum act on the modalities for the planned referendum in Montenegro on independence and call on all parties to take this forward. Implementation of this EU-mediated agreement will provide the referendum process with the necessary legitimacy. In this respect, we commend the successful efforts and initiatives of the High Representative Javier Solana’s Personal representative, Ambassador Miroslav Lajčák.
- The adoption of further important reform-oriented legislation over the past year is a significant achievement. But we note that some important legislation is still missing and that there remains a noticeable discrepancy between legislation adopted and its implementation. We support the Mission’s intention to strengthen its engagement in this field.
- We note with concern Ambassador Urstad’s assessment that the goal of the Sarajevo Declaration of January 2005 to resolve all outstanding refugee return and integration issues by the end of 2006 is far from being met. We agree with him that lack of durable solutions for remaining refugees and IDPs remains a dominant obstacle to regional reconciliation.
- The EU commends the Mission's continuing efforts in the key areas of rule of law and reform of the judiciary, the police and the media. The fight against corruption rightly remains a top priority, as does the improvement of police accountability. We recognise the significant progress that has been made, with Mission help, in combating human trafficking.
- We welcome Ambassador Urstad’s assessment that the security situation in South Serbia has continued to improve, helped by the 2005 reform of the Coordination Body. However, limited progress in improving the situation of national minorities, particularly through completion of the necessary legal framework , is less encouraging.
- Finally, Mr. Chairman, we congratulate the Mission on its significant contribution to the progress achieved and wish them all the best for the challenging year ahead.
The Acceding Countries Bulgaria and Romania, the Candidate Countries Turkey, Croatia* and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia*, the Countries of the Stabilisation and Association Process and potential candidates Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, EFTA country Iceland, a member of the European Economic Area, as well as Ukraine and the Republic of Moldova align themselves with this declaration.
*Croatia and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia continues to be part of the Stabilisation and Association Process