Tuesday, December 15, 2015

EU publishes "common position" document on chapter 35

The EU has published its common position on chapter 35 relating to Kosovo and Metohija, that was opened late on Monday.
Source: B92
The text stresses that "this first set of interim benchmarks will be updated" and that "if progress in the normalization of relations with Kosovo significantly lags behind progress in the negotiations overall" the opening of other chapters could be frozen.
The EU notes that Serbia in its position stated that "fully understanding that the EU accession process and normalization process should run parallel and support one another," and that Serbia "will remain entirely committed to the continuation of the normalization process and its dialogue with Pristina."

The document adds that chapter 35 "does not replace the dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina conducted under the auspices of the (EU) high representative," and that Serbia's progress in the process of EU accession will take place in line with "improvement of relations with Kosovo, and other requirements from negotiating frameworks."

In the part relating to energy, it is stated that Serbia ould establish the supply company ElektroSever in Kosovo, and "solve the issue of the Serbian-appointed management of the Gazivode (hydro-power plant)."

"Serbia should ensure that it completes its part of the work on implementation of August 25, 2015 agreements, in particular on the establishment of the Association/Community of Serb majority municipalities in Kosovo as well as the other elements of the First Agreement of April 2013 (police, justice, civil protection). In addition, Serbia will complete its residual commitments under the previous Technical Agreements," the EU common position on chapter 35 reads, and adds:

"Finally, Serbia should engage in reaching further agreements, furthering the normalization in good faith, with a view to gradually lead to the comprehensive normalization of relations between Serbia and Kosovo, in line with the negotiating framework. In line with the negotiating framework, the Commission and the High Representative will monitor closely and continuously Serbia's fulfillment of the following first set of interim benchmarks and report "at least twice yearly', on this issue, to the (European) Council."

Other key points stated relate to elections, the Community of Serb Municipalities (ZSO), civil defense, police, and telecommunications.

The part that relates to freedom of movement says Serbia must "allow third states' nationals entry into Serbia from Kosovo" and "implement the license plates' arrangements in northern Kosovo for Kosovo residents."

As for regional cooperation, the EU expects Serbia to "enable, from their side, Kosovo's effective participation in remaining regional initiatives, in line with the jointly agreed terms," while when it comes to "customs issues" Serbia should "cease the issuance of documentation or affixing of stamps with denominations that contravenes Serbian obligations under the January 17, 2013 agreement."

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