Italy Seeks Faster Integration of Western Balkans

resizer24The Italian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Franco Frattini, asked the EU to begin finalising the Trade Agreement with Serbia by the end of June.

Italy has presented a plan to step up Euro-integration of the Western Balkans, in which it proposes speeding up negotiation of the Trade Agreement, and demands full co-operation with the Hague Tribunal by Belgrade.

The Italian Embassy in Belgrade announced that Frattini made the proposals at the meeting of European and US Ministers of Foreign Affairs in Prague. 

The plan also predicts the cancellation of visa requirements for Serbian citizens. Italy wants the European Commission to prepare a report on that issue by the end of May, so that a non-visa regime could take effect by the end of 2009 or the beginning of 2010. The priority countries for non-visa regimes will be Serbia and Macedonia, says the Italian Embassy statement.

Italy also asked the EC to start preparing a technical report on Montenegro, followed by Albania and Serbia. „One of our goals is for Croatia to be in the EU by 2010“, according to the plan.

Italian officials recognise the urgency of solving the problem of the name of Macedonia, in order to kick-start negotiations for its accession to the EU and NATO. The plan also points out the importance of economical support to Kosovo; the motto of civil and military forces in Kosovo should be „We came together and we are going to leave together“, it reads.

The Frattini plan further suggests that a meeting of EU and Western Balkan countries should be held, with US participation, in the first half of 2010.

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