The EU officially conditions the integration of Serbia with the normalization of relations with Kosovo


The Council of Ministers of the European Union (EU) has today approved the final decision to change the negotiating framework for membership with Serbia, making its acceptance conditional on the normalization of relations with its neighbor, Kosovo.

This change has to do with chapter 35 of the negotiating framework, in which the implementation of the Agreement on the path towards the normalization of relations with Kosovo now becomes a formal condition for Serbia in the process of membership negotiations in the bloc.

In the new text of the negotiating framework, the following sentence is set as a condition: "Serbia fully implements the obligations arising from the Agreement on the way to the normalization of relations between Kosovo and Serbia, according to the Annex of its implementation, as agreed on March 18, 2023 ".

On February 27, 2023 in Brussels, Kosovo and Serbia had reached the Basic Agreement, while on March 18 in Ohrid, agreement was reached on the Annex of the implementation of the agreement.

The European Commission and the EU's External Action Service (EEAS), which had also proposed these changes, have welcomed the decision of the Council of Ministers to approve them, according to the EU's spokesperson, Peter Stano.

"Both parties had accepted their respective obligations, that the Agreement for the normalization [of relations] would become an integral part of their European integration journey. The implementation of the Annex reached in March 2023 reflects this obligation of both parties", said Stano.

Stano confirmed that such an obligation will become formal for Kosovo as well through a "special group for normalization".

"The agenda of the next meeting of the special group for normalization for Kosovo will also be updated. We expect both parties to implement the Agreement and all other obligations that remain from the dialogue, because this is key for their respective European journey", he added.

The ambassadors of the EU member states reached agreement on these changes last week.

This change was requested to include the obligation to implement the agreement from the dialogue between Serbia and Kosovo as a condition within the chapter 35 of the membership negotiations since the agreement was reached a year ago.

Progress in the process of normalizing relations with Kosovo was part of the conditions in Belgrade's EU membership negotiations, but now the condition of implementing the agreement reached last year is specifically mentioned.

This agreement, of 11 articles, provides, among other things, a level of self-management for the Serbian community in Kosovo and mutual recognition of state symbols, while it requires Pristina and Belgrade to also implement all previous agreements reached. during the dialogue.

The EU insists that the agreement and the annex, despite not being signed by the parties, are legal obligations for both countries.

Serbia, through its officials, has said several times that it will not implement parts of the agreement that deal with territorial integrity and Kosovo's admission to international organizations. /REL