WESTERN BALKANS: CONSOLIDATING STABILITY
AND RAISING PROSPERITY (5773/06)
Letter from the Chairman to Rt Hon Douglas
Alexander MP, Minister for Europe, Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Thank you for the Explanatory Memorandum dated
8 February 2006 which Sub-Committee C considered at its meeting
on 16 February. The Sub-Committee agreed to clear the document
We are pleased to see that the Commission is
continuing its work on ensuring the smooth progress of the Western
Balkans towards eventual accession of the EU. We believe that
the prospect of future accession is essential to the stability
of the region.
We welcome this Communication and ask to be
kept updated as further new developments arise.
16 February 2006
Letter from Rt Hon Douglas Alexander MP
to the Chairman
I thought you would welcome an update on developments
within the European Union Monitoring Mission (EUMM) in the Western
Following the review carried out by SG/HR Solana
in September 2005, PSC has agreed that the presence in Albania
will be reduced to two monitors, based in the capital Tirana,
by 21 May 2006. These monitors will concentrate on issues relating
to Kosovo. The presence in Bosnia and Herzegovina will remain
unchanged at least until the elections later this year.
Overall, the number of monitors has decreased
by 14 since September 2005a reduction which we welcome.
Further plans will reduce the number of monitors to 68 by the
end of 2006 (that figure was 88 in September 2005). These reductions
will reflect cuts made in the HQ and in Albania. As in previous
years, there will be an annual review towards the end of 2006
which will consider further reductions as part of an exit strategy
and in light of the situation in the Western Balkans at that time.
28 March 2006
Letter from Rt Hon Douglas Alexander MP
to the Chairman
I wrote to you on 8 February enclosing the Commission
Communication, "The Western Balkans on the road to the
EU: consolidating stability and raising prosperity."
You subsequently cleared the document, but the House of Commons
European Scrutiny Committee requested further information on the
discussions and conclusions of the Gymnich Informal EU-Western
Balkans Ministerial meeting which took place on 11 March. I am
copying this update to you too.
The Informal Ministerial was a useful exchange
of views and the UK was pleased that the meeting reaffirmed the
EU's full support for the agenda set out at the Thessaloniki Summit
in 2003. The meeting provided an opportunity for the countries
of the Western Balkans to report on the progress they have made
since. Thessaloniki, and for the EU to reiterate that more needs
to be done for the Western Balkans to fully meet EU conditions,
particularly co-operation with the ICTY. The EU also expressed
its intention to take forward the package of hearts and minds
incentives set out in the recent Commission Communication, "The
Western Balkans on the road to the EU: consolidating stability
and raising prosperity." These include concluding free
trade agreements, conditions based visa facilitation, increasing
the number of scholarships for students and researchers, and twining
programmes to support institution building.
24 April 2006
SALZBURG EU/WESTERN BALKANS JOINT PRESS STATEMENT
1. The Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the
Member States of the European Union, the acceding states, the
candidate states, the potential candidate countries of the Western
Balkans, the Secretary General of the Council/High Representative,
and the European Commissioner for Enlargement met in Salzburg
at the occasion of the informal Foreign Ministers' meeting. The
High Representative/EU Special Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina,
the SRSG for Kosovo, and the Special Co-ordinator of the Stability
Pact for South Eastern Europe were also present.
2. The participants reaffirmed their full
support for the agenda set out at the Thessaloniki summit in 2003,
as well as for the Stabilisation and Association Process which
will remain the framework for the European course of the Western
Balkan countries. In this respect, the EU confirms that the future
of the Western Balkans lies in the European Union. The EU recalled
that a debate on the enlargement strategy is due in 2006 as set
out by the Council conclusions of 12 December 2005. The EU also
notes that its absorption capacity has to be taken into account.
The participants agreed that each country's progress towards the
EU continues to depend on individual merits in meeting the conditions
and requirements set forth in the Copenhagen criteria and in the
Stabilisation and Association Process, including full cooperation
with the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia.
3. The Western Balkan countries have achieved
considerable progress in the areas of stability, democracy and
economic recovery. All have in the last year made significant
steps along their road towards the EU, with EU membership as ultimate
goal in conformity with the Thessaloniki Declaration. They must
now increasingly focus in adopting and implementing European standards
and in fostering conditions for sustainable stability and prosperity
throughout the region. The countries of the region committed themselves
to continue and accelerate the reforms furthering these objectives.
All participants agreed on the importance of good neighbourly
relations and on the need for finding mutually acceptable solutions
on outstanding issues with neighbouring countries.
4. Preserving peace, and enhancing stability
and security in the Western Balkans remains a common European
interest. The participants agreed that every effort should be
made to achieve a negotiated settlement of the status of Kosovo,
mutually acceptable to the parties concerned, and expressed their
full support for the work of the UN Special Envoy and his team.
They recalled the importance of continued and effective standards
The EU strongly urged both Belgrade and Pristina
to work towards a lasting Kosovo Status Agreement that promotes
a multi-ethnic and democratic society and good neighbourly relations
within the region.
5. The participants welcomed the Commission's
Communication "The Western Balkans on the road to the EU:
consolidating stability and raising prosperity", and expressed
their intention to take forward its implementation. The EU will
continue assisting the Western Balkan countries through practical
measures to make the European perspective more tangible. In this
context, the participants encourage regional cooperation, including
a free trade area building on CEFTA, and look forward to the Commission's
proposals on people to people contacts, including visa facilitation
in line with the common approach, as well as on adequate financial
assistance. In order to master the challenges that the region
faces in 2006 and beyond, the EU is determined to fully implement
the commitments given in the Thessaloniki agenda.