Cyprus, Greece, Romania, Slovakia and Spain should join the other EU member states in recognising Kosovo's independence, the European Parliament said in a resolution Thursday.
(WAZ.Euobserver, DPA, Blic - 09/07/10; DPA, B92, European Parliament - 08/07/10)
MEPs said they "would welcome the recognition by all member states". [EP]
The European Parliament (EP) adopted a resolution Thursday (July 8th), calling on all EU member states to recognise Kosovo.
Since declaring independence on February 17th 2008, the former Serbian province has since been recognised by a total of 69 countries, including 22 EU members. Cyprus, Greece, Romania, Slovakia and Spain are the only members of the Union that have been refusing to do so.
The EP "would welcome the recognition by all member states of the independence of Kosovo", said the document, which was approved by a 455-155 vote, with 28 abstentions.
It also urged the Union to strengthen its common approach to Kosovo, with the objective of European integration, noting that the bloc's policies need to be made more effective for people on the ground.
Stressing that "the prospect of accession to the EU is a powerful incentive for the necessary reforms in Kosovo," members of the EP (MEPs) called also "for practical steps to make this prospect more tangible to citizens by implementing human rights and enhancing the rule of law".
They emphasised the need for progress in the fight against corruption and organised crime in Kosovo, as well as in the areas of public administration reform and decentralisation.
MEPs expressed "extreme concern by the widespread corruption, which remains one of the biggest problems in Kosovo, together with organised crime".
The resolution further noted that Kosovo should be included in the EU visa liberalisation process and urged the European Commission to inform Pristina "without delay" of the steps that need to be taken. It should then prepare a road map detailing the requirements that the country's authorities must meet so that the people of Kosovo can eventually join others in the region, who are already able to travel to most of Europe without visas.
MEPs also called on Serbia, which remains strongly opposed to its former province's secession, "to be pragmatic on the status issue and to refrain from blocking Kosovo's membership in international organisations".
Noting that countries aspiring to join the EU must meet the accession criteria, the MEPs stressed that one of the main aims of the bloc's Stabilisation and Association process for the Western Balkans is regional co-operation.
In view of the advisory opinion on the legality of Kosovo's independence declaration that the International Court of Justice is expected to issue within the coming weeks, the resolution stressed that the ruling "should not hinder all parties involved from clearly committing themselves to effective cross-border, regional and local co-operation in the best interests of the whole population in and around Kosovo".
Voicing concern about rising tensions in northern Kosovo, MEPs noted that the role of EULEX should be stepped up in that part of the country, so as to foster inter-ethnic relations and inform the local population about EU action.
But MEPs rejected the possibility of partitioning Kosovo, the EP said in a statement.