Western Balkans and EU - Part 14

posted by julia on 2006/03/13 00:35

[ Western Balkans and EU ]

"All [Western Balkans states] have in the last year made significant steps along their road towards the EU, with EU membership as ultimate goal. [...] The EU confirms that the future of the western Balkans lies in the European Union," reads the joint statement of the foreign ministers of the EU member states, the candidate countries (Turkey, Crotia, and FYROM), and the other Western Balkan countries (SaM, BiH, Albania), who gathered for an informal strategic meeting in Salzburg on Saturday, 11.3.2006.

The statement includes the term "membership" and thus goes a bit further than the decision taken at the Thessaloniki

summit in June 2003, which said that the Western Balkans "will become an integral part of the EU, once they meet the

established criteria." While the Western Balkan diplomats present in Salzburg managed to push through the term

membership in the final statement, they did not succeed to remove the clause on the EU's absorption capacity. Especially

France and the Netherlands insisted on the sentence "The EU also notes that its absorption capacity has to be taken into

account". Nevertheless, E. Busek, Co-ordinator of the Stability Pact for SEE, does not think this will slow down the EU-

integration process of the Western Balkans, which represent just "a little more than half of Poland" (cf. an interview with

Busek in Der Standard on 11.3.2006, and the map below).

Not only the EU absorption capacity clause, but also the declarations on Kosovo showed some rifts between the EU

member states. The comment of UK foreign minister Jack Straw that Kosovo's independence from Serbia was "almost

inevitable" sparked heated discussions and several member states (e.g. France and the Netherlands) distanced themselves

from this position (cf. Reuters, 11.3.2006).

Following the news of Milosevic' death, Javier Solana said he hoped that "the death of Milosevic

will help Serbia to look definitely to the future." The pressure on Serbia will intensify to help deliver Mladic and Karadzic,

as the ICTY now lost its most prominent case.

Comments and news on Milosevic' death: cf. the review on the kakanien-editor's blog, 12.3.2006; Tagesschau-article

on the reactions of people in Serbia
, 12.3.2006; Tagesschau-editorial on the death of Milosevic, 11.3.2006:

Der Druck auf Belgrad wird noch mehr steigen, jetzt, wo Milosevic tot ist. Daran, wie Serbien mit diesem Tod

umgeht, wird man erkennen können, wie europäisch das Land wirklich ist. Jeder in Serbien wird sich jetzt entscheiden:

Mitgehen bei Solidaritätsdemonstrationen für den Ex-Präsidenten - oder einen Seufzer losschicken und sagen: Es ist wohl

besser so. Auf dem Weg nach Europa muss Serbien noch einige Altlasten loswerden. Ein Teil davon war Milosevic, sagte die

österreichische Außenministerin im Namen der EU. Milosevics Tod enthält die Chance für einen Neuanfang. Hoffentlich

haben die Politiker in Belgrad den Mut dazu. (tagesschau, 11.3.2006)

Press statement, interviews and articles on Salzburg and the Western Balkans: Salzburg EU/Western Balkans Joint Press Statement, 11.3.2006; background article from the EU Observer, 11.3.2006; interview with Stability Pact Co-ordinator E. Busek in Der Standard, 11.3.2006; interview with Olli Rehn in Die

, 10.3.2006; interview

with Serbian President B. Tadic
in Die Presse, 11.3.2006


Map source: Der Kurier, 10.3.2006.


1 Attachment(s)



This weblog is a forum for discussion on the political and social processes linked to EU integration in the Western Balkans. We would also like to use this space to create a virtual network of researchers on this topic. You are most welcome to contribute to this weblog with comments, postings, links, or photos. Please use the "add comment" function at the end of each posting!
All photos by the Photo Arts Collective of Kosovo. First photo by Burim Myftiu (Swimming olympiade in Klina). Second photo by Mimoza. Third photo by Dashmir Izairi.
> RSS Feed RSS 2.0 feed for Kakanien Revisited Blog SEE-EU