The Foreign Affairs Committee has stressed that "a European perspective" for the countries in South Eastern Europe depends on their respect of human rights. Financial and other help by the EU should therefore be linked to certain conditions. The EU should also play an active role in achieving a conclusion on the final status of Kosovo within two years which safeguards the principles of a multi-ethnic, multicultural and multireligious society. And the EU should no longer insist on keeping Serbia and Montenegro together at all costs, but leave it up to them what form their relationship should take, while helping them to work out a lasting and peaceful arrangement.
In its second annual draft report on the stabilisation and association process for Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, the former Yugoslav Republic Macedonia, and Serbia and Montenegro, drawn up by Joost LAGENDIJK (Greens/EFA, NL), for the Foreign Affairs Committee state that these countries should fully co-operate with the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) in The Hague. They should also implement an effective policy for the return of refugees and actively combat corruption, organised crime and trafficking in human beings, arms and drugs. MEPs in the committee observe that countries which in practice make citizens' rights dependent on their ethnicity, cannot expect to join the EU. And for countries which have signed bilateral agreements with the USA which undermine the International Criminal Court (ICC) - also based in The Hague - it would be undesirable to allow them to become members of the EU.
The EU should gradually ease the conditions for granting visas to citizens of the Southeast European countries, as they undertake necessary reforms. The five countries concerned should also be able to make use of EU programmes such as Socrates for the exchange of teachers and students.
As regards Albania specifically, MEPs are unhappy with the way the local elections on 12 October were held. Albania should, moreover, strengthen the protection of its minorities. In Bosnia-Herzegovina, the return of refugees in certain parts of the country is welcomed by MEPs, who urged the authorities in the Republika Srpska, however, to enable refugees to return to the Posavina region and to Banja Luka. The Bosnian authorities were urged to co-operate fully with the ICTY in The Hague and to do their utmost to bring Karadzic and Mladic to trial.
Croatia is praised for not concluding a bilateral agreement with the USA on the ICC and for introducing a new law on the rights of national minorities. It should implement this law fully so as to guarantee the unobstructed return of all refugees. Croatia also needs to make significant improvements in its co-operation with the ICTY, combating corruption, freedom of the media and reform of the judicial system. The Foreign Affairs Committee deplores the unilateral declaration by the Croatian authorities of an ecological and fishing zone in the Adriatic in spite of opposition by the Commission and the EU presidency; it calls for an agreement on borders to be reached by diplomatic means.
As regards Macedonia, MEPs in the committee call for the full dismantling of the Albanian National Liberation Army; full co-operation with the EU in putting an end to arms trafficking; the speeding-up of the implementation of the Ohrid agreement, especially in the reform of the police and army and the amnesty law for former NLA fighters; and a more active policy against corruption and organised crime. The Foreign Affairs Committee says it expects the EU military presence to be maintained as long as necessary.
The Serbian government is encouraged to press on with the current reform of the army and to take more action in the fight against corruption and organised crime. MEPs in the committee ask the OSCE and the Council of Europe to examine allegations of violations of human rights, a lack of independence of the judiciary and growing state influence over the media.