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European parliament adopts a number of Western Balkans resolutions

The European Parliament has adopted a number of resolutions relating to the rule of law and media freedom in Serbia, Macedonia, Montenegro, Albania and Kosovo, outlining areas where improvements are needed.

MEPs called on the Serbian authorities to strengthen the country’s fight against corruption and organised crime. Belgrade was also called to continue public administration reforms to ensure it becomes more politically neutral. The resolution also urged the country to assist in the investigation of the murder earlier this year of Oliver Ivanovic, a Kosovo Serb politician. Furthermore, the necessity to approximate its foreign and security policy with that of the EU, including on matters on Russia was highlighted. Finally, Belgrade’s continued stance on the Srebrenica genocide was criticised with MEPs stating that Serbia’s recognition of the genocide would be “a fundamental step on Serbia’s path to joining the EU.”

Macedonia meanwhile was hailed for reaching a deal with Greece over the name of the country, which was “the most important event in the Balkans in 2018,” according to MEPs. Nonetheless, the country told to take measures against money laundering and conflicts of interest and to ensure judicial independence. The same resolution also urged the Hungarian authorities to extradite Macedonia’s ex-prime minister Nikola Gruevski. The resolution on Montenegro also placed particular emphasis on the need for reforms in the areas of rule of law, money laundering, anti-corruption, media freedom and organised crime.

Albania was praised for its effective judicial reforms, yet high levels of corruption remain an issue of concern for the members of the European Parliament. Tirana has been called on to work towards the betterment of its justice system and relax burdensome regulatory procedures, which impede investment.

Finally, the resolution on Kosovo called for visa liberalisation without further delay. Cyprus, Greece, Spain, Slovakia and Romania – EU member states which have not yet recognised Kosovo – were asked to do so.

A resolution on Bosnia and Herzegovina has not yet been adopted, due to the country’s complicated election system and post-election horse trading which has so far impeded the country from forming a government.