OSCE Permanent Council No. 608
EU Response to the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Serbia and Montenegro, Mr. Vuk Draskovic
- The European Union welcomes the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Serbia and Montenegro, Mr. Vuk Draskovic, back to the Permanent Council and thanks him for his address.
- The European Union strongly supports the future status process for Kosovo. It has defined its position on Kosovo in the Council Conclusions of 7 November 2005 and 27 February 2006.
- We work closely with Special Envoy Ahtisaari and fully support his efforts to take the process forward on the basis of the Contact Group's Guiding Principles and the Contact Group Ministerial statement of 31 January 2006. The EU attaches great importance to a positive outcome of this process. Its success will be essential both for providing a clear perspective for the people of Kosovo and for the overall stability of the region. The EU remains determined to play a full role in the resolution of the Kosovo’s future status, which must enable Belgrade and Pristina to make progress towards the European Union.
- We call on both Pristina and Belgrade to engage in good faith and constructively in the status process in order to find realistic solutions to the difficult issues that need to be addressed and that all possible efforts be made to achieve a negotiated settlement on the status of Kosovo during the course of 2006. Such a settlement should, inter alia, respect the will of the people of Kosovo, respect the legitimate rights of minority communities and increase the stability of the entire region.
- All communities in Kosovo, including the Serbs, should play their part in the future status process. We therefore call upon the Serbian government to encourage Kosovo Serb participation in the local institutions of self-government. They need to be able to shape their future within Kosovo. In this regard, the EU remains concerned about the recent Coordination Centre for Kosovo (CCK) directive forcing Kosovo Serbs receiving salaries from both Belgrade and Pristina to choose one over the other.
- Mr. Chairman, the continued consistent implementation of the Kosovo Standards remains key. It is only through this important process that the paramount strategic objective of building a functioning, viable and multi-ethnic Kosovo fully integrated in the region can be achieved. In particular, further progress must be made on the protection of minorities, full respect of the rule of law, a transparent public administration free from political interference, a climate conducive to returns, and the protection of cultural and religious sites.
- The EU expects that the next meetings in Vienna will be held in constructive manner and will generate further progress. We call on all sides to engage constructively and to follow a realistic approach in order to take the negotiations forward.
- In Permanent Council on 2 March, the EU welcomed the assessment of the Head of the OSCE Mission in Serbia and Montenegro that the security situation in South Serbia had continued to improve, helped by last year's reform of the Coordination Body. We have therefore noted with concern the OSCE Mission’s 13 April spot report on the resignation of the Head of the Coordination Body. This records that representatives of the Albanian community in South Serbia have repeatedly voiced disenchantment with the Coordination Body, which had yielded too few concrete results. We trust that the government of Serbia and Montenegro will do everything in its power to safeguard the security gains made in this important region and to foster economic development.
- Mr Chairman, on 3 May, following a negative assessment from ICTY Chief Prosecutor Carla Del Ponte, EU Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn announced the Commission's decision to call off negotiations with Serbia and Montenegro on a Stabilisation and Association Agreement. We regret that Serbia and Montenegro is still not fully co-operating with the ICTY. The EU reiterates its firm commitment to the European perspective of Serbia and Montenegro. In this context, we indicate our support to resume negotiations as soon as full cooperation with the ICTY is achieved. We once again urge the authorities in Belgrade to ensure that all remaining fugitive ICTY indictees, notably Ratko Mladic, are brought to justice without further delay.
- The EU reiterates the importance of a fair and orderly referendum process in Montenegro. It calls on both sides to comply with the referendum law and provisions and to refrain from unilateral actions during the further stages of the process. In this connection, the EU would like to underline its full support to the ODIHR’s Observation Mission.
- In conclusion, Serbia and Montenegro is facing many difficult issues this year. The EU is confident that the OSCE, within its mandate, will continue to assist Serbia and Montenegro on its way ahead. We should like once again to thank Foreign Minister Draskovic for addressing the Permanent Council today and assure him that the European Union remains ready to engage constructively on all issues.
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, as well as the Republic of Moldova align themselves with this declaration.
*Croatia and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia continue to be part of the Stabilisation and Association Process