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MEPs praise Croatia’s progress

Foreign Affairs Committee MEPs praised the Hungarian Presidency’s efforts to complete EU enlargement negotiations with Croatia by end of June, and welcomed Serbia’s arrest of Ratko Mladić but warned that its path to the EU “is still long”, in an EU enlargement debate on 16 June.

“The conditions imposed on Croatia as candidate are now considered to be sufficiently met”, said Hungary’s Foreign Minister János Martonyi , adding “and ‘sufficient means sufficient’. We still have four chapters open but two more weeks to go. We remain positive that all remaining chapters will be closed by the 30 June at midnight. This is indeed possible”.

Martonyi was also satisfied with progress in negotiations with Iceland (for which, he said the first 4 chapters could be opened on 27 June), Montenegro (which obtained the candidate status during the Hungarian Presidency and with which real negotiations “may be set to start by the end of this year"), and Serbia.

Rapporteur on Croatia Hannes Swoboda promised to steer “a thorough and quick overview” of Croatia’s progress through Parliament as soon as negotiations close. He also stressed the need to encourage Serbia’s democratic forces with a clear EU signal in favour of enlargement.

Many MEPs, including Eduard Kukan, Richard Howitt, Ivo Vajgl, and Charles Tannock, praised the Presidency’s efforts and welcomed the arrest of former Bosnian Serb military leader Ratko Mladic in Serbia, but stressed that another Serb leader indicted for war crimes, Goran Hadžić, was still on the run. Franziska Brantner was worried to see that just one day after receiving the green light from Brussels, Croatia had seen violence perpetrated by people trying to boycott a gay pride parade.

Serbia: be tough, but fair
“The arrest of Ratko Mladić was our moral obligation and we did it. Now we must find Goran Hadžić and bring him to justice”, said Serbian Deputy Prime Minister Božidar Ðelié. “We will do our part to advance in the EU accession process. To all those who said they would be tough on Serbia I now reply: yes, be tough, but not unfair. By inventing new hurdles to the accession process you will only discourage the Serbian population”, he added, asking the EU “to treat Kosovo with the same international standards” and to prosecute those responsible for alleged trafficking of organs and harvesting organs of Serbians in Kosovo.

With a view to future negotiations, Ðelié described to MEPs a 96-point Serbian government action plan, “intended to achieve a clear goal: this is that Serbia, based on merits, will be able to get both the candidate status and even the opening of negotiations next spring”. 

Kukan, speaking as chair of Parliament’s Delegation for the Western Balkans, welcomed this “good speech” but added that politicians in Serbia risk attributing too much importance to the impact of Mladic’s arrest. “You should not raise the expectations of your people too much, because the accession is not going to happen soon”, he said.

Martonyi was more optimistic. “Things are moving in Serbia. There is only the arrest of General Mladić – I also see a more pro-European atmosphere in the political elite, the media and public opinion. Some technical progress has also been made in the dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina, such as the registration of citizens, electricity supply and access to telecommunications. We hope that its candidate status and negotiation starting date can be fixed soon”, he concluded.






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