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Slovenian Minister Rupel at the meeting of the European Parliament and national parliaments on the Western Balkans

"The stability of South Eastern Europe is of crucial importance for the security and prosperity of the entire European Union, which is why the process of further enlargement is one of the priorities of the Slovenian Presidency. Through this policy, the EU is extending the area of peace, stability, prosperity, democracy, human rights and the rule of law." These are the words of the President of the EU General Affairs and External Relations Council and Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Slovenia, Dr Dimitrij Rupel, who on Monday afternoon started his intervention at the session of the European Parliament with the presidents of the parliaments of the EU Member States and the presidents of the Western Balkan countries, with special attention paid to the European future of the Western Balkans.

At the meeting, co-chaired by the President of the European Parliament, Mr Hans-Gert Pöttering, and the President of the National Assembly of the Republic of Slovenia, Dr France Cukjati, Dr Rupel presented a clear analysis of the accession to the European Union in all the Western Balkan countries, where he devoted particular attention to the situation in Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosovo.

Considering Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Slovenian Foreign Minister confirmed that the signing of the Association and Stabilisation Agreement is due on 16 June, thereby linking the Western Balkan countries via agreements guaranteeing a European perspective for the region.

As for Bosnia, Dr Rupel pointed out that the recent signing of a Stabilisation and Association Agreement with Serbia and the presentation of a roadmap on visa liberalisation have undisputedly functioned as an important incentive to the local pro-European forces. "The Presidency welcomes the victory of pro-European forces at the recent parliamentary elections reaffirming the desire of the majority of the Serb population to bring Serbia closer to the European Union. We hope that a new government with a clear agenda will be formed as soon as possible, committed to regional cooperation and good neighbourly relations," added Dr Rupel. He also assessed that according to the conclusions of the EU GAERC Council meeting in April and depending on the fulfilment of the conditions known in advance, closer Serbian relations with the European Union can be established, including the granting of the status of candidate country.

As regards Kosovo, Dr Rupel noted that the heads of State and Government at the EU Council meeting held in December pointed out the EU’s readiness to help Kosovo attain permanent stability. Notwithstanding the decisions of the individual Member States on recognition, the stability of Kosovo – and hence the region – is in the interests of the entire European Union. "I would also like to point out that the attempts of certain forces in the region that see in the question of recognition or non-recognition an opportunity for destabilisation of conditions or an opportunity to turn back the development of the status process are unacceptable. The status process is irreversible," asserted the Slovenian Foreign Minister, adding that under the present circumstances it is necessary to assure, to the greatest possible extent and as soon as possible, the continuation and conclusion of the launch of the EULEX Kosovo mission, to form an Office of the EU Special Representative and establish both missions in the entire territory of Kosovo for further stabilisation of this country.  With the new Constitution brought into force on 15 June, new circumstances will obtain to which the international community will have to adjust accordingly. "We also expect the Kosovo government to meet the commitments they have voluntarily adopted, in particular in respect of the position and rights of minority ethnic communities and their cultural and religious heritage, which is part of the heritage of the whole of Europe.  The Serbian component is an integral part of Kosovo’s identity, and it is the responsibility of the majority of the population in Kosovo to keep it that way. Special attention will be paid to the supervision of implementing the above-mentioned commitments," concluded Minister Rupel.


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Date: 27.05.2008