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Meetings Calendar 2006
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Press Releases

11.03.2006

The Salzburg Declaration

Salzburg EU/Western Balkans Joint Press Statement

 

1. The Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the Member States of the European Union, the acceding states, the candidate states, the potential candidate countries of the Western Balkans, the Secretary General of the Council/High Representative, and the European Commissioner for Enlargement met in Salzburg at the occasion of the informal Foreign Ministers’ meeting. The High Representative/EU Special Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina, the SRSG for Kosovo, and the Special Co-ordinator of the Stability Pact for South Eastern Europe were also present.

2. The participants reaffirmed their full support for the agenda set out at the Thessaloniki summit in 2003, as well as for the Stabilisation and Association Process which will remain the framework for the European course of the Western Balkan countries. In this respect, the EU confirms that the future of the Western Balkans lies in the European Union. The EU recalled that a debate on the enlargement strategy is due in 2006 as set out by the Council conclusions of 12 December 2005. The EU also notes that its absorption capacity has to be taken into account. The participants agreed that each country's progress towards the EU continues to depend on individual merits in meeting the conditions and requirements set forth in the Copenhagen criteria and in the Stabilisation and Association Process, including full cooperation with the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia.

3. The Western Balkan countries have achieved considerable progress in the areas of stability, democracy and economic recovery. All have in the last year made significant steps along their road towards the EU, with EU membership as ultimate goal in conformity with the Thessaloniki Declaration. They must now increasingly focus in adopting and implementing European standards and in fostering conditions for sustainable stability and prosperity throughout the region. The countries of the region committed themselves to continue and accelerate the reforms furthering these objectives. All participants agreed on the importance of good neighbourly relations and on the need for finding mutually acceptable solutions on outstanding issues with neighbouring countries.

4. Preserving peace, and enhancing stability and security in the Western Balkans remains a common European interest. The participants agreed that every effort should be made to achieve a negotiated settlement of the status of Kosovo, mutually acceptable to the parties concerned, and expressed their full support for the work of the UN Special Envoy and his team. They recalled the importance of continued and effective standards implementation.

The EU strongly urged both Belgrade and Pristina to work towards a lasting Kosovo Status Agreement that promotes a multi-ethnic and democratic society and good neighbourly relations within the region.

5. The participants welcomed the Commission’s Communication ‘The Western Balkans on the road to the EU: consolidating stability and raising prosperity’, and expressed their intention to take forward its implementation. The EU will continue assisting the Western Balkan countries through practical measures to make the European perspective more tangible. In this context, the participants encourage regional cooperation, including a free trade area building on CEFTA, and look forward to the Commission’s proposals on people to people contacts, including visa facilitation in line with the common approach, as well as on adequate financial assistance. In order to master the challenges that the region faces in 2006 and beyond, the EU is determined to fully implement the commitments given in the Thessaloniki agenda.

 

Date: 17.03.2006