From: Alice Taylor
EU Parliament: Kosovo, Bosnia and Herzegovina Praised, Serbia Slapped on Wrist

European Parliament on Wednesday adopted three reports on EU hopefuls Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH), Kosovo, and Serbia, praising them for progress but making calls for normalisation of relations, unity against Russia, and an end to hateful rhetorics.

The three reports were presented to the plenary, and each passed with an overwhelming majority, signalling that parliamentarians are on the same track regarding enlargement in the region.

While support for BiH’s EU-Atlantic orientation was apparent, MEPs strongly denounced hateful rhetoric and disruptive action, pointing particularly towards Milorad Dodik, leader of the Belgrade-backed Serb entity.

“These are namely the destabilising activities and the blocking of state institutions by the leadership of Republika Srpska, which must be sanctioned, and the impasse in electoral and constitutional reforms”, rapporteur Pau;o Rangel said.

They urged for an unconditional return to these state institutions and an advancement in work related to EU reforms, particularly the rule of law. Additionally, the country was urged to implement all EU sanctions against Russia fully and warned of Moscow’s interest in further destabilising the country.

Kosovo was praised for its increased political stability and a strong commitment to its EU path. Calls for visa liberalisation were also reiterated as “any further delays would undermine the EU’s credibility and reputation as a reliable partner.”

The report also reconfirmed the unequivocal support for the so-far unsuccessful EU-facilitated Belgrade-Pristina dialogue, which should result in a “comprehensive,  legally binding normalisation agreement, which is crucial for Serbia and Kosovo to advance on their respective European paths and which will contribute to regional stability and prosperity.”

Rapporteur Viola von Cramon did not mince her words and specifically called on France and the Netherlands to stop blocking the way for visa liberalisation of Kosovo citizens.

“I really hope that this will be the last report that mentions this failure. As for the Council, and in this context, I wish to address directly France and the Netherlands – the time to adopt the decision on visa liberalisation is now”, she said.

But in terms of Serbia, the report was less rosy. It spoke of a lack of progress and even backsliding on issues fundamental to EU accession. MEPs called for progress on the rule of law, fundamental rights, freedom of expression, media pluralism, and the normalisation of relations with Kosovo.

“We note that much more can be done for Serbia to move towards the EU. I stand ready to engage with the new leadership in Belgrade to work on a European future for Serbia”, said rapporteur Vladimír Bilčík.

The report also strongly regretted that Serbia has not aligned with EU sanctions following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. It called on the authorities to do so as a matter of urgency.