European Union foreign ministers on Tuesday called the Kosovo government to immediately revoke the 100 percent tariffs imposed on goods from Serbia and Bosnia Herzegovina, adding that Belgrade and Pristina have to implement all agreements reached in the EU-facilitated dialogue.
“The Council deeply regrets the decisions by the government to impose unilateral tariff increases of up to 100% on imports from Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina in November 2018, in violation of Central European Free Trade Agreement (CEFTA) obligations and of the spirit of the SAA, as well as the imposition of non-tariff barriers. The Council reiterates that these decisions undermine regional cooperation, including the Regional Economic Area, and must be immediately revoked,” the ministers said in conclusions from the meeting in Luxembourg.
The Council urges Kosovo to continue to cooperate closely and effectively with EULEX, particularly in regard to criminal/civil cases handed over by the EU mission to the Kosovo judiciary.
Pristina needs to make further substantial efforts and contribute to the establishment of a conducive environment for the EU-facilitated Dialogue with Belgrade, and refrain from any act that can be perceived as provocation. The Council stresses that the current status quo is not sustainable. It is essential that the Dialogue restarts as soon as possible,” the ministers added.
They said that a comprehensive legally binding agreement needs to be reached without further delay so that Kosovo and Serbia can advance on their respective European paths and added that all agreements reached in the dialogue need to be implemented and expressed regret that there has been no progress in the commitment to implement them.
“The Council recalls that progress in the normalisation of relations with Serbia is an essential principle of the SAA and underpins the development of relations and cooperation between the EU and Kosovo,” the conclusions said. The ministers welcomed Serbia’s progress in the accession negotiations with 16 out of 35 negotiating chapters opened and 2 provisionally closed but warned that progress on the rule of law and fundamental rights chapters and normalisation of relations with Kosovo are essential and will determine the pace of accession negotiations.
“The Council encourages Serbian authorities to firmly commit to and promote European values, focus and significantly accelerate its reform efforts and deliver concrete and tangible results in fundamental areas, with focus on the rule of law,” it said.
The Council calls on Serbia to guarantee a safe climate conducive to the unhindered exercise of freedom of expression and the independence of the media as a matter of urgency, including by stepping up efforts to investigate cases of attacks against journalists.
Serbia needs to continue to pay particular attention to the full respect of fundamental rights, including protection of the most vulnerable groups, as well as the non-discriminatory treatment of national minorities, the ministers said and added that cases of hate speech, intimidation and attacks should be addressed promptly and firmly.